Juniper – Juniperus communis
Gin is not Gin without this all important botanical – it has to make up over 50% of the botanical mix when distilling spirit into gin and most is now harvested in Eastern Europe since the recent gin boom. However, for me, Juniper is a sacred plant and is so interwoven within our own Scottish indigenous roots. Its name in Gaelic was Samh and was referred to as our mountain Yew and has been in use for millennia. It was for its culinary, medicinal and ritual properties that Juniper was best known. For culinary the berries were used crushed like a peppercorn and ground to add to game dishes and sauces. Medicinally Juniper can be traced back in written format 1500BC in ancient Egypt where it was to aid digestion and cure various stomach ailments and the Romans used it for stomach ailments too and purification. However, it is in the burning of Juniper which would have been used for cerominies, it gives of minimal visible smoke but is very aromatic and would have been used for purification and to aid our ancients in clairvoyance and to stimulate contact with the Otherworld specifically at the Samhain festivel at the start of the Celtic year.
Juniper and our Garden
This is our biggest planting by far with over 4000 bushes in the garden – we have them planted as in a vineyard style, in long straight rows. Our main crop is now mature and over three years old where they are covered in beautiful berries – harvesting is tough though ,as the bushes are very sharp and you have to ware thick gloves when picking the fruits