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 little critters.
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!
For more information on the health, wealth and wellbeing of Scottish Juniper check out: