Where is juniper in discussions about gin’s terroir?

It’s the botanical that defines gin and yet distillers rarely discuss the origins of their juniper,
says the founder of Kenya’s first gin distillery.

Nairobi-based Australian Guy Brennan launched Procera Gin in 2018 showcasing African botanicals including Juniperus Procera, an indigenous juniper variety.

“Where we live in Kenya, it’s on the equator. It’s 26 degrees year-round. There’s 365 days of sunshine and juniper is better where there’s more sun,” he says.

“What that does, is it creates a beautiful, rich, nutty, earthy juniper.”

Procera African Martini Gin
Procera African Martini Gin

Brennan says distillers tend to gloss over juniper when discussing the terroir of their spirits.

“Juniper makes up 80-90 per cent of gin and no-one in the gin world talks about it, because none of it is grown in the places where the distilleries are,” he says.

“They talk about a pepper or a citrus, but the essence of terroir is juniper.”

The juniper base for Procera is uniquely composed of two thirds fresh African juniper berries, with the remaining third comprised of dried juniper imported from Europe.

“The difference between the fresh juniper and the dried juniper creates a really complex juniper-forward note that you’re probably not quite used to,” Brennan says.

The Procera Gin team

“That’s not just the difference species, it’s also the fact that [the Kenyan juniper is] green, it’s bright and it’s fresh and it’s vegetal.

“It tastes of the terroir that it comes from, because it hasn’t been dried and put in a 50kg sack and shipped around the world as a commodity to anyone who wants to make gin.”

Procera African Martini Gin is distilled from a total of ten botanicals including Somali honey, Zanzibar cardamom and Swahili lime.

The flagship product received a score of 96 points at the 2020 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London.

Packaged in a mouth-blown bottle crafted from recycled glass, it is now available in Australia with an RRP of $159.99 for a 500ml bottle.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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