Are all gins made with juniper berries?

Gin cannot be made without juniper berries, because the law requires that it have the predominant flavor of juniper berries in a beverage to be called gin. The key ingredients in gin are a carbohydrate base, juniper berries and any other desired botanical ingredient. To be classified as gin, brandy must contain juniper berries and have an alcohol percentage by volume of 40%. The base of gin is made just like other liquors.

A carbohydrate or a neutral grain is fermented and distilled. What sets gin apart from other liquors is the use of juniper and other botanical ingredients during the distillation process. Juniper is the only botanical found in all gins. The law requires that the cones of the juniper shrub (often referred to as “juniper berries”) be present and perceptible in order for a liquor to be called gin.

Juniper is found in 100% of spirits called gins. The juniper berry is known for imparting the traditional pine note of gin, although it can also appear as resinous, waxy, herbaceous or even green and fresh. The juniper in gin is generally Juniperus communis; however, occasionally distillers use local species that may have a very different flavor in gin. There are many ways to make gin, but most start with a distilled base alcohol.

This liquid is then mixed with juniper and other botanical ingredients. All gin requires the addition of juniper. However, some brands, especially those founded in the last decade, have left juniper in the background. There is no doubt that there is room for everyone, in our opinion.

This suggests that mixing juniper with alcohol was already a well-established tradition by then, although at the time liquor had more to do with utility than enjoyment. Eight botanical ingredients: juniper berries, coriander seeds, licorice root, almonds, lemon peel, cassia bark, lily root and angelica root, containing a vapor infusion with the base alcohol. Both, of course, come from the namesake blackthorn of blackthorn gin, a small fruit similar to a plum, also known as blackthorn, and which is usually added to a ready-made gin. Made with a base of fermented grains, fruits or starch, the addition of juniper berries and an infinite variety of other botanical ingredients, such as spices or herbs, gin has developed its well-deserved place in the alcoholic beverage industry.

Although many different styles of gin have evolved, it legally differentiates into four categories in the European Union, as follows. Derived from the iris flower, orris root adds a clean, spring sweetness to gin, something similar to angelica root, but is much rarer because the roots must first be dried for five years. London gin cannot contain added sweeteners greater than 0.1 g (0.0035 oz) of sugars per liter of final product, nor colorants or added ingredients other than water. Gin is a juniper-flavored spirit drink that is not made by redistilling botanicals, but simply by adding approved natural flavoring substances to a neutral liquor of agricultural origin.

Today, gin is produced in different ways from a wide range of herbal ingredients, giving rise to a number of different styles and brands. It is what the distiller does with this product in the process of infusing flavors that makes each gin different. Sometimes known as Chinese parsley, coriander is the second most common botanical gin, after juniper. Monks used it to distill strong, fiery and alcoholic tonics, one of which was distilled from wine infused with juniper berries.

In tropical British colonies, gin was used to mask the bitter taste of quinine, which was the only compound effective against malaria. This process gives barrel-aged gin the deep smoky quality that is usually associated with Scotch whisky, but with a milder finish than gin, and all this with that juniper-rich flavor that is a reference for gin lovers. By the mid-17th century, many small Dutch and Flemish distillers had popularized the redistillation of malted barley alcohol or malt wine with juniper, anise, caraway, coriander, etc.

Terrance Wilson
Terrance Wilson

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