MiNDFOOD (New Zealand)



At the heart of any exceptiona­l gin should be the unmistakab­le aroma of juniper; it should be detectable on the palate, but not drive the flavour. Once on the palate, gin should expand its flavour messages, have warmth but not a burn. When cut with artisan water, it should release aromas and flavours of complexity and mystery. With more than 90 gins now produced in New Zealand, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting fine examples to stir through a tonic, bottled water or in a cocktail. Finding one that you can sip on neat or with a teaspoon of H2O (never from the tap) just got better with Juno extra fine, small-batch triple-distilled gin.

The Roman goddess Juno (in Greek, Hera) was the wife of Jupiter (Zeus) and is the goddess of marriage and domestic harmony.

Just a few years ago, New Plymouth-based husband-and-wife team Jo and Dave James took a giant leap of faith and left their respective careers to start BeGin Distilling Limited. Their science background has certainly helped with the finer details involved in the selection of botanicals and the distillati­on process. Like any new product developmen­t, there must be experiment­ation, refinement and exacting standards to accompany the dream.

If you’re a convert to gin like I am, then you’ll know that discoverin­g a gin that suits your taste is a bit like finding wine from a variety and style that touches the senses in such a way that you feel compelled to keep sipping and explore its textures and flavours. What Jo and Dave do to capture your attention with their gin is to use handselect­ed botanicals – Wairarapa coriander, Hawke’s Bay orris root, East Coast kaffir lime leaves and locally sourced green cardamon, angelica root, cassia bark and Mānuka honey – in just the right measure to fuse together the aroma and texture components. The water source is of equal importance for gin: for Juno, it comes from Mount Taranaki.

“We are working with New Zealand horticultu­ralists to eventually grow and harvest all our botanical ingredient­s sustainabl­y, establishi­ng new crops for future growth,” says Jo James. A commitment to sustainabi­lity is a critical part of the company ethos. “We have a built-in system to harvest and store rainwater for the cooling condenser,” says James. There are many other sustainabl­e practices in place: for example, the bottle labels are printed with organic inks and are recyclable.

Juniper berries are imported for all gin production in New Zealand, but that hasn’t stopped the couple from finding a way to grow them locally, establishi­ng a partnershi­p with Massey University to research and find the right clone(s) to plant – watch this space. junogin.com

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