Do all gins use juniper berries?

It's the fact that all gin must contain juniper, although whether juniper is a whisper or a scream, in the end, the flavor depends on each individual distillery. Juniper is the only botanical found in all gins. Juniper shrub cones (often referred to as “juniper berries”) are required by law to be present and be perceptible, in order for a liquor to be called gin. Juniper is found in 100% of liquors 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. Each juniper berry contains half a dozen seeds, triangular, hard and black, and are dispersed by birds that eat the berries. All juniper species grow berries, but most are considered too bitter to eat.

In addition to Juniperus Communis, other edible species include Juniperus Drupacea, Juniperus Phoenicea, Juniperus Deppeana and Juniperus Californica. Some species, for example Juniperus Sabina, are toxic and their consumption is not recommended. However, to be fair, it's rare to find anything other than communis in the UK, so you probably won't have a problem if you don't have the Botanical Encyclopedia handy during the walk and you get hungry. Juniper is that characteristic pine flavor that we all know is synonymous with gin.

The regulations state that, regardless of the type of gin, the predominant flavor must be juniper. Most of us don't have these berries growing in our backyard, so if you're interested in knowing what they actually taste like, juniper berries. But one of the most important ingredients is juniper, because this botanical forms the basis of all gin. Without juniper, you can't call it gin.

It seems that the love for liquor has spread to the current times, because gin is still very popular in the United Kingdom. Unlike vodka, which is made with nothing more than alcohol and unflavored water, there is an enormous diversity in the flavor of different gins. Because Hendrick's added two additional flavors (rose and cucumber), gin truly differentiated itself from classic and more standard gins and inspired other gin makers to explore new flavors. In addition, some gin makers even roast their coriander seeds before soaking them, while others deliberately crush them.

The Durham Distillery also makes great use of the spice, as does Whittaker's with its Pink Particular gin. Because gin uses juniper berries to flavor alcohol, some of the health benefits that come from this superberry also go to gin. Once that time has elapsed, strain the additions to the infusion and add the finished gin back to the bottle to enjoy. As mentioned above, juniper berries have to be the predominant flavor in a liquor to be classified as gin.

Some gin distilleries also use orange blossom, other orange hybrids (such as Blood Orange) and fresh whole oranges, but they are less common. Gin begins with a puree of corn, barley and rye grains, or some mixture of them, which is then distilled several times. To date, the only examples of gin that use both dry and fresh orange peel in a gin are William Chase Elegant Crisp gin and, possibly (although it needs additional clarification by the distiller), Dutch Dry Gin V2C gin. On the other hand, Old Tom gin focuses more on sweetness and malt flavor and is sometimes aged to bring out those flavors.

Although it is possible to distill the fruit, the peel or the leaves, it is the latter that is usually chosen for gin. Cubeb berries have long been used together with juniper, as their unique combination of an intense floral scent similar to lavender, combined with a ground pepper flavor, allows them to combine very well with it and with other main botanical ingredients in gin. Juniper is such an important aspect of gin that, literally, it is not only the main botanical used in gin, but, by law, it must be the predominant flavor in anything that seeks to be classified as gin. England became synonymous with gin, which was prevalent for decades until the craft cocktail movement inspired a new interest in liquor, and American small-batch gin distilleries began to emerge.

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Terrance Wilson
Terrance Wilson

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