The aroma of gin or how a plant such as Juniperus Communis, known in Croatia as a “klek”, “borovica” or “smrika”, “caught the eye” of man and after so many years created such an interesting story is very complicated.
There was probably some attraction. Perhaps the juniper was attractive to some other, animal, species on Earth. Something that encourages people to better study the plant. Its availability, attractiveness or pure need. Through this blog on our site, we will try to tell a story in several lines about how the juniper point of interest of our ancestors, track it through history and try to find out how it has become the main aroma of gin.
In short, the story of the gin is a story of how mankind fell in love with the “juniper” plant!
The spread of the plant was a key factor. It grows almost all over the Earth. From tropical Africa, the Himalayas, the forests of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, … almost everywhere. Given this distribution, it is not surprising that the plant has become a part of everyday life. Juniper appears in history even in the Paleolithic. The Lascaux cave in France, which has given us thousands of paintings and carvings, was illuminated by branches of bush pine.
There is some romance in the fact that 15,000 years ago light needed to paint the stone gave the fire of the rising shrub of the juniper. France is definitely not the only place where juniper was found. Burnished juniper was found in western Macedonia, Jordan, Dalmatia and much of the Adriatic coast.
Although we can not be 100% sure whether the objects of interest were fruits or only the branches in which the fruits grew their presence tells us that people were already aware of their aromatic properties. Even the smoke of the burning plant has a wonderful sweet and aromatic scent that reminds of the scent of wrinkles.
In order to understand when the real love of man and juniper began we have to find out when the man began to use it outside the area where it naturally grew. 1500 years ago we have proof of that. Kyphi, a well-documented and researched Egyptian fragrance in the form of a fragrant paste, contains a lot of ingredients that will be familiar to any person who has at least once checked the ingredients of good gin: iris, mint, cinnamon, cassia, cardamom and juniper are just some of the ingredients.
This is perhaps one of the earliest examples in which many ingredients have been used, which will later appear as a gin aroma.
Literature: Gin, The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival by Aaron Knoll, Gin, The Manual by Dave Broom, The Drunken Botanist, The Plants That Make The World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart