What gin is made with real juniper berries?

The spirits company produces two gins, WildBark and WildJune, which are distilled from rye and malted barley and infused with juniper berries native to the Davis Mountains. It means 'Very Junipery Over Proof'. That alone is enough to tell you what awaits you with every sip. It's packed with notes of pine and juniper.

Sipsmith uses three times as many juniper berries in this expression as in his normal London Dry, pursuing “the desire to create the best gin for juniper lovers”. It also has an alcohol content of 57.7 percent, making it a solid choice for a strong gin -26% tonic. Beefeater, an old-school London Dry classic, is an affordable gin that stands out in cocktails. Its pine and citrus notes helped define London Dry as a style, and it continues to this day.

The label's Yeoman of the Guard will march to your juniper-loving heart every time you use Beefeater in a cocktail. Each Broker's bottle comes covered with a small cylinder. That's your first hint of how English, specifically, the type of English broker London Dry is. The flavor begins and ends with a strong juniper and has an alcohol content of 47 percent.

It prides itself on sticking to a simple list of 10 botanical ingredients (juniper above all), avoiding “the modern trend of using strange and wonderful liquors and botanicals”, as the distillery states on its website. Tanqueray is another classic brand, and the standard London Dry uses the same recipe for four botanical ingredients that it used when the company began in the 1830s. Since it only competes with three other botanical ingredients, juniper has plenty of room to shine, which is obvious regardless of the mix of juice you add to your gin and juice. Juniper is strong in all the gins on this list, but Portland Dry Gin 33 takes things to another level.

The New Deal distillery opted for a purist juniper environment and only put juniper berries in their gin. No citrus fruits, no cardamom, just juniper. Small-batch liquor can be hard to find outside of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, but every juniper head should have Portland Dry Gin 33 on their radar. Another gin distilled in London proper, “VJOP” stands for “Very Junipery Over Proof”.

During production, a large amount of juniper (three times more than the standard London Dry) is added and the gin undergoes a “triple juniper” process. First, more juniper is added to the standard botanical recipe for Sipsmith gin, which is macerated with the base liquor for three days. Then more juniper is added after maceration. Finally, during the distillation, more juniper vapor is infused with the alcohol.

How could Juniper NOT be the star here? Waiter, a very dry Martini, directly, please. With 22 juniper berries in each bottle, you can safely say that Beefeater London Dry Gin has the most junipers of all brands. However, some brands, especially those founded in the last decade, have left juniper in the background. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Beefeater belongs to the Geneva Hall of Fame, especially when used to make a Martini.

The reason behind this is that berries taste better when distilled, and to ensure they stay fresh longer, these gin distillers use more of them in their dry gins. Eight botanical ingredients: juniper berries, coriander seeds, licorice root, almonds, lemon peel, cassia bark, lily root and angelica root, are steamed with the base alcohol. Although Japan is the only country that produces Tatsumi gin, it can still be found in certain places in Europe and America. It is named after its founder, Charles Tanqueray, who established the brand in 1830, and was originally distilled in London.

From the classic gin and tonic to a homemade meat marinade with juniper berries, there are many ways to use this liquor in your kitchen. Follow the example of previous London Dry gins with a focus on juniper (as the name suggests). P is an acronym for Very Juniper Over Proof, which means they use more than the required amount of juniper berries under their license. Tatsumi Distillery uses as many juniper berries as possible in its gin, which is why they call it The King of Gin.

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Terrance Wilson
Terrance Wilson

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