Scottish Juniper- why and how?
We use 100% hand foraged Scottish Juniper to produce Badvo. It's a very short statement. Easy enough to say, yet incredibly difficult to do. So why is it important? And if it's good why do hardly any distilleries use Scottish Juniper?
Well, there are a few reasons. The main one is
phytophthora austrocedrae, a fungal disease
which has lead to a great decline in the juniper
population in the UK. In 2015 Plantlife Scotland
conducted a survey which found 63% of juniper
bushes in Scotland have degraded to brown/
orange shrubbery as a result of the pathogen.
Despite efforts to isolate the problem the disease
continues to devastate juniper supplies. It was
firstly believed that the disease originated from
Argentina, this is no longer believed to be the case. However, as a result, it is greatly discouraged to transplant juniper bushes unless you are an expert.
The second big hitter is that the vast majority of
juniper bushes are too old to produce seeds. The
Woodland Trust estimate that this applies to
around 80% of the juniper population, a problem
that by its nature will only get worse.
Furthermore, juniper is not always pleasant to
forage! It is labour intensive, picking your way
through spiky bushes which host a number of
It's for all of these reasons that the vast majority of Scottish Gin Distilleries import all of their juniper dried from Eastern Europe. This in itself has a few problems. When using dried juniper you need to use approximately five times as much. It tastes different too, a quick look at Wikipedia will tell you that juniper from Eastern Europe consists of many different varieties. In addition, due to the recent gin boom the juniper population in some countries, such as Croatia, is practically decimated. By importing juniper we cannot ensure appropriate foraging practices. We should be looking after the worlds juniper for the environment, and the future gin production.
At Badvo we are lucky enough to have an
extensive and healthy juniper population.
Always careful with the bushes we forage in
short bursts, never picking berries before they
are ready. Once we have the buckets full we leave
the juniper in an out building in hope of evacuating
any spider hitchhikers. After a couple days we'll
sieve out any stray juniper debris and any
particularly dedicated spiders.
Then we have it, our fresh and beautiful Scottish Juniper ready to meet you in a glass of Badvo!