Cubebs and Coriander

We recently took a good look at the joys of the juniper berry, the cornerstone of any good gin, including our own. Now it’s time to discover some of the other small-batch botanicals which bring their best to each bottle of our Isle of Harris Gin, starting with cubebs and coriander.
First we have the cubeb, also known as Piper Cubeba, the tailed or Javanese pepper. As you might imagine it looks very much like your everyday black peppercorn (and also a little like juniper) but is usually found with a little stalk attached. Grown mainly in Java and Sumatra, the berries of the plant are picked before they ripen and then dried.
The cubeb has a fascinating history, being used for all manner of curative purposes and even some magical medicinal ones. It has long boasted aphrodisiac properties and even an ability to prolong lovemaking! But for our less libidinous intentions, we use it for the warm spiciness it brings to our island spirit.
It also adds to the overall complexity, particularly when acting in harmony with juniper. Despite its fiery nature, there’s also a soft floral quality to its influence but for easy recognition of its presence in your glass, just look for an immediate peppery, ginger-like note when enjoying our gin.

Next we have coriander, an ingredient most people will be familiar with, particularly if they spend time in the kitchen. An incredibly important botanical, it is the seed of the cilantro plant, rather than the leaves, which are of interest to our distillers. ​

The coriander we use is sourced from England and is usually planted in the spring to be harvested later that summer when the plant and therefore the seed, has dried out. The plant can stand approximately one meter tall and is harvested using a combine harvester.
The resulting coriander seeds provide some of the citrus, spice and ‘green’ flavours in our gin’s flavour profile. Primarily, it gives a deeply herbal orange flavour. This, in balance with the bitter peel of another botanical (more of which next time), allows coriander to magically create the notes of grapefruit so recognisable in Isle of Harris Gin.
There are still five more brilliant botanicals to explore so please join us again next month for part three…​

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