The Green Juniper

 
Ripe Juniper at Hepple.jpg
 

The very fresh 'green' taste of Hepple gin comes from the green berries (or to be technical "cones"), which we harvest from the juniper bushes on the Hepple estate. 

We don’t use filters for our photography. These, from Flynn, show the green juniper berries glowing with an almost extra terrestrial light. Our thing is to try to keep this glow alive in the bottle.

Lucy, Walter's wife, picking juniper at Hepple.

Lucy, Walter's wife, picking juniper at Hepple.

Gloves are essential!

Gloves are essential!

Harvesting our juniper is not straightforward. As each bush reaches ripeness at different times, we start our harvest in August and continue until we’ve reached the last berries (before their oils dull ahead of the frosts) at the end of November. 

By the time I'm writing this, mid October, they have turned a greener colour, similar to a garden pea and taste like a north wind from the moors; tangy, peppery, sharp and clean - entirely in its own category of cold. 

As the winter frosts roll in, the berries bruise with the chills, and start that slow journey from green to the dark blue-purple colour that they are normally recognised as having. So we strike now.

Berries and needles in the basket.

Berries and needles in the basket.

Sorting and cleaning.

Sorting and cleaning.

We treat each bush with great care, while encouraging the old needles to drop, allowing air to circulate within the branches. This keeps the plant healthy but necessitates careful sorting and cleaning before we take our prescious harvest back to the distillery.

In the distillery our distilling scalpel and our vacuum still extracts the lightest flavours and aromas from the harvest.