Juniper is the one botanical that binds together all gins. Without juniper there would be no gin! But what is juniper?
There are 67 species of juniper plant growing from the arctic, through The Himalayas and into Africa and Central America. Juniper has one of the highest tree lines in the world, thriving in a large variety of environments, often with little water needed. Juniper trees can grow up to 30m and live for 200+ years, they are characterized by their (often) spiky needles and purple/blue berries that can bloom as late as Autumn. For gin’s purpose it is the berries that are harvested.
The juniper berry, juniperus communis, is the root (excuse the pun) of the word gin, translated from Dutch/French Jenever. These berries are purble/blue and about the same size as a thumbnail. In gin these berries are used fresh or dried.
They are deposited directly into the botanical basket alongside the rest of the botanicals chosen. The juniper infused in the gin for around 24 hours. These methods of infusing and distillation juniper (and the rest of the botanical basket) are one of the key areas where distilleries are able to differentiate their product.