Green through and through
When Juniper Green launched its London Dry gin in 1999, the UK gin market was a very different place.
Wednesday 25 July 2018
This article is from
Raise the Bar
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When Juniper Green launched its London Dry gin in 1999, the UK gin market was a very different place. Organic, certified vegan, with a focus on the provenance and sustainability of its ingredients, Juniper Green was among the most expensive gins on the market and – while right at home in the age of craft alcohol – was at the time something of an oddity.
“We were the world’s first organic gin, and actually the first organic spirit of any kind. Right from day one, we’ve put the quality and traceability of our ingredients at the heart of what we do. We started out working directly with an organic farm on the Austrian-Czech border, where the grain undergoes its first distillation on-site, and we’re still with them, so all our spirit is single-estate. We’re also the world’s only gin to use ‘FairWild’ juniper, which is a standard that combines fair trade practices with sustainable harvesting. It’s mainly used for certifying medicinal herbs and wild source ingredients, but it fits very closely with our values too.”
This clearly sits well with certain other people’s values too, as Juniper Green was awarded a Royal Warrant by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2007, having supplied the royal household with gin for several years previously.
Peter also believes Juniper Green’s attention to detail comes through in the spirit itself. For example, all of the botanicals in the distillery’s recipe can be sourced back to their producer of origin – Peter knows many of them personally – helping ensure consistently high quality. As it is vegan certified, Juniper Green also doesn’t contain glycerin, a very common additive in white spirit, and Peter believes its character is better for the fact.
Juniper Green, along with the company’s organic vodka and organic rum, is batch distilled under contract at the small but busy Thames Distillers, which Peter’s family helped set up (his father is still a board member there). While some turn their noses up at the concept of contract distilling, Peter is full of praise for Thames’s technical craft, and says he is proud of their long-standing relationship.
Needless to say, the gin landscape has changed dramatically in the past 19 years and, as arguably the world’s first craft gin, Juniper Green has had a front row seat to these changes.
“The consumer is now hugely educated in gin, which has two effects. They know a good gin when they taste one, which definitely helps. But I think the main reason we have such strong brand loyalty is because our ethos of sustainable production is something that aligns well with a lot of people. They’ll choose us again and again.”
Finally, we turn to the most important question of all: how best to enjoy Juniper Green.
“I work on the basis that people should drink it however they most enjoy it,” says Peter after a thoughtful pause. I have a negroni, but I know a lot of people who prefer it with a tonic. The only thing I’d say is make it a light tonic - it’s a lovely-tasting gin, so don’t obscure it with loads of quinine. It also makes an excellent dry martini.”
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