The Origin series of gins explore the ways that regional differences in climate can affect the flavor of juniper in distilled products. In Fall 2016, I wrote about this phenomenon in Artisan Spirit magazine, but I find that the Origin series (available from Master of Malt) is the best way, short of sourcing and distilling yourself, to witness this variation.
About Ohrid Lake, Macedonia
Macedonian juniper comes up frequently in discussions of “the best juniper sources.” Perhaps it’s only second to Italy. Many of the Balkan republics have juniper sources which you see crop up frequently in the Origin Series.
Specifically this source is from on the Macedonian side of Ohrid Lake which straddles the border of Albania and Macedonia. The deepest lake in the Balkans, its shores are home to a diverse ecosystem as well as some impressive vistas. Still somewhat off the beaten track, it hasn’t quite become a touristy city yet. Let’s hope word of their juniper sources don’t make it around…
It’s relatively sedate with a mild juniper forward perspective. The juniper is piney and that’s really all. Crisp, clean, pine and juniper. I find that compared to others in the Origin series that the Ohrid Lake, Macedonia is conspicuously quieter than other single juniper gins.
The palate is really stark and pine-forward. A quiet burst of black spruce, woody and slightly balsamic. Towards the finish you get hints of forest floor and cedar bark. It’s woody and clear, I like it, but it’s got a clearly different perspective than some of the fruity, brighter junipers of Perugia, Italy for example.
Just on its own, it strikes me that this juniper provenance would be ideal for a distiller looking to make a earthy, powerful juniper forward gin.
It might seem odd to critique this single botanical origin gin from Ohrid Lake, Macedonia for being “one note,” but compared to some of the other juniper-only gins I’ve tasted this one is rather simple.
Ohrid Lake, Macedonia single origin juniper gin is a great baseline if you’re doing a terroir tasting and a worthy comparison. I love all of the gins in this series. But for the rating, I’ll rate it just based on how interesting it is on its own. I find it less surprising than others, but still worth a closer look.
Recommended for juniper geeks.