Phew! A Gin Crisis Has Just Been Avoided

Photo: Roxana Azar
Aaand breathe. The future of gin in the UK is safe, thanks to a genius bunch of horticultural experts who have been working to conserve our juniper berries. Back in October 2015, there was a national panic after warnings that we could soon face a gin shortage. A deadly fungus, Phytophthora austrocedri, was killing off juniper berries in Scotland, one of the main areas where juniper berries – the spirit's key ingredient – are grown. (Fun fact: Scotland produces 70% of all gin consumed in the UK.) But – thank your lucky stars – a group of horticultural boffins at the UK National Tree Seed Project has collected and protected juniper seeds from across the UK, reported the BBC. The top spots for juniper berries include Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Cumbria, Conwy and the Scottish Highlands. The seeds will be stored in the Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst, Sussex, and although this won't cure the disease, it will hopefully help to preserve the plant from extinction, the horticulturists said. Juniper is the first species to be collected in full because it is the "most threatened and also has the largest distribution," project officer Simon Kallow told the BBC. Gin sales have been booming recently, with sales set to overtake Scotch whisky by 2020 because of an explosion of micro-distilleries, experimentation with botanicals and an increased popularity among all ages, the BBC reported. Even if there were a UK juniper shortage, however, it's unlikely there would be a genuine dearth of gin, according to Leon Dalloway, founder of Gin Journey, which offers gin tours and tastings. "I know at least one fairly large London distillery where they have a 'secret room' containing a year's extra stock in case there is a plight," he told the BBC. Most British gins also use juniper berries from overseas, places such as the Pyrenees, Tuscany, Macedonia or Bosnia, as "that's where the juniper harnesses the most oils," he added. So, it seems the future of our favourite cocktail is pretty secure, after all. After this good news, we think an ice-cold G&T is in order.

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