Does all gin use juniper berries?

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. This is partly due to their relatively inefficient cross-pollination: juniper shrubs could be called the pandas of the coniferous world. American Bluecoat gin has a prominent note of limonene everywhere, while Leopold's Gin and 6 O'Clock Gin have lemon-slanted profiles.

Pine's antiseptic notes supposedly come from the hydrocarbon alpha-pinene, which forms between 40 and 45% of the aromatic molecules in juniper. Like whiskey, with varieties such as Irish whiskey, Scotch whisky and bourbon, gin comes in multiple forms. At the molecular level, almost 70% of coriander seed oil is a single alcohol called linalool, but the second major component is alpha-pinene, the key ingredient in juniper. For those who are particularly sensitive to it, you'll notice the effect in Hendrick's gin, but it's harder to distinguish on its own.

It seems that the love for liquor has spread to the current times, because gin is still very popular in the United Kingdom. To the taste, saffron gives a pleasant touch to juniper in a gin and, although it generally has a tasty sensation, the sweetness of the smell translates into the tongue and the overall flavor is reminiscent of cinnamon toast, even if slightly. While widely considered to be a Japanese ingredient, the fruit originated in China, but a bit of seed stitching during the Tang Dynasty caused the fruit to flourish wildly in Japan and Korea. Shaped like spheres with irregular sides, these berries are green at first, but ripen after 18 months and take on a dark purple-blue color, ideal for taking and adding to a botanical selection for making gin.

Gin must contain mainly juniper berries for the law to qualify as gin, but you can make beverages that taste a lot like gin but without the pine flavor of juniper berries. Hendrick's was launched at a time when gin was beginning to disappear because people were starting to see it as “just juniper”. Dartmouth English Gin and Beefeater's Crown Jewel are good examples of the role that botany plays in a classic-style gin, providing fresh acidity. In fact, “the common juniper has one of the largest geographical areas of all the woody plants in the world.

When distilled, pink peppercorns retain their almost cheesy nature, providing a certain amount of fire to a liquor. Alternatively, try the Juniper Cask offerings from Hernö or Blackwater, where both have taken juniper wood and created bespoke mini-barrels that give off a particularly cheesy and resinous note.

Terrance Wilson
Terrance Wilson

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