Gin is becoming increasingly popular among alcohol enthusiasts, and one of the most popular ingredients used to give it its signature flavor is juniper berries. Juniper berries are a type of evergreen shrub that grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere and have a unique, piney flavour that is often described as "woodsy" or "earthy". Distillers have been using juniper berries to make gin for centuries, but with the recent craft gin boom, they are now able to experiment and create unique and nuanced gin flavours.
Let's take a closer look at the process of distilling gin and the role juniper berries play in them.
The History of Using Juniper Berries in Making Alcohol
The use of juniper berries in alcohol making has a long history, dating back to the 16th century in Europe. Juniper berries have been used to flavour gin for centuries and are considered an essential ingredient in the production of the spirit. Because of the berry's unique pine-like flavour and aroma, distillers use them to create a wide range of gin styles. The combination of juniper berries, along with other botanicals such as coriander, cardamom and citrus, create a complex and flavorful gin.
Juniper berries are harvested from the evergreen juniper tree, which is native to the UK and most of continental Europe. The berries are dried and then crushed or distilled to extract the flavour and aroma. Juniper berries are also known to have a number of medicinal properties, which has led to their widespread use in traditional medicine.
Unfortunately, juniper plants are becoming rare in England and many parts of the country. Luckily, an organisation called Plantlife UK is trying to save them. They are trying to raise awareness of the importance of protecting junipers by connecting their conservation to England's love of gin and tonic. They hope this will inspire people to help restore their natural habitat. Despite the rarity of this evergreen tree, juniper berries are imported and still used to flavour many popular branded gins and other alcohols, and their unique taste and aroma will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.
How Juniper Berries Are Used in the Production of Gin
While there are numerous ways of producing gin, most distillers use a process known as "vacuum distillation" to extract the flavour compounds from the juniper berries. Juniper berries are a key ingredient in gin that give it its distinctive flavour. Vacuum distillation uses a vacuum chamber to reduce the boiling point of the alcohol, allowing the distiller to extract the flavour compounds from the juniper berries at a lower temperature. This helps to preserve the delicate flavour of the juniper.
How Juniper Berries Affect the Taste of Gin
Gin is a beloved drink among many, and its unique flavour comes from juniper berries. Juniper berries are an essential part of London dry gins and other gin types, adding a distinctive taste and aroma to the spirit. But what exactly do these berries do to the flavour of the gin?
The presence of juniper berries in gin makes it more complex and interesting, with multiple layers of flavour. The berries also give gin its signature aroma, which is a combination of herbal, woody, and citrus notes. Another benefit of juniper berries is that they balance out the other flavours in the gin, allowing them to be more prominent. Without the juniper, these other flavours would be overpowered.
Although juniper berries are essential to gin, they don't have to be the dominant flavour. Many gin producers add additional botanicals to their gin, such as citrus, spices or herbs, to give it a unique flavour. This allows the gin to be tailored to the individual consumer's tastes while still keeping the juniper berry as the main flavouring agent.
So, if you're a fan of gin and want to get the most out of it, make sure to look for a gin that contains juniper berries. That way, you can enjoy the unique and complex flavour of gin and experience the effects that juniper berries have on the taste of this beloved spirit.
Are you ready to enjoy a delicious gin and tonic made with juniper berries? Jim & Tonic has you covered. We are London's sustainable urban distillery producing high-quality craft gin with a focus on sustainability. Our brand and bespoke gins are perfect for sipping neat or for creating delicious cocktails. Order online or visit our East London distillery for a unique tasting experience.