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 Perugia, Italy
It is thought among gin distillers that the best juniper comes from Italy. Within Italy, many gin distillers will tell you the best juniper comes specifically from Tuscany. Big brands like Bombay have done much to extol the virtues of their Italian juniper sources, adding gravity to the claim.
Perugia, Italy is just outside of Tuscany*, but it is to Umbria what Florence is to Tuscany. As the capital of its region, Perugia’s history dates back to the Etruscans. Today it’s perhaps best known for its chocolate and its walls around its historical center. Perugia, Italy has a similar climate to many places in Tuscany. It’s humid subtropical, with a good deal of rain and cool winters and fairly warm summers.
The nose is impressively robust. Dark, robust mature pine branches, resiny, somewhat sappy and pine-forward. The nose has more than just a passing resemblance to the pine-forward nose of several classic style gins, Bombay included.
However, the palate is quite surprising. Clementine orange zest, pine-forward juniper and a slight nuttiness to it. This is really complex juniper here. I love the echoes of citrus in the top notes, and the thick pine-forward juniper on the finish. The finish has notes of Douglas Fir. The finish is quite warm, but the overall juniper profile is quite lovely.
Fans of classic style gins should already know that they’ll likely enjoy the Origin Gin series just on its own. But for juniper aficionados, the taste of pure Italian juniper gin should be enough to geek out over and decide for yourselves. Is Italian Juniper truly the best?
I don’t know that I’m ready to make the claim on behalf of an entire nation, but I am enamored of Perugia, Italy’s juniper…Perugia, Italy might be slightly more than a stone’s throw away, but it is quite close and in a very similar climactic region to the lauded Tuscan juniper sources. (source: Google Maps)