Before we begin, I would like to say hello and welcome to my 100th gin review! I’ve picked something a little special for you, as a way of celebrating this little milestone.
If you’ve read even one of my other reviews, thank you, and I hope you enjoy this one! It’s been an incredibly fun ride, and I’ve met some great people and gin makers along the way! So here’s to a hundred more!
Hernö Juniper Cask gin is the first gin to be matured in Juniper wood casks.
Price: ~ £55 (50cl)
Hernö gin was born on an 18th century farm in Dala, Northern Sweden in 2011 when founder Jon Hillgren and his wife bought the land. With the help of friends and family, they built Sweden’s first dedicated gin distillery and installed Kiersten, their first still, which began producing in 2012. The first bottles went on sale on 1st December, and within months Hernö went on to be the most awarded gin at The International Gin Masters 2013. By 2014 the distillery expanded and a visitor centre was added, and between 2013-2017 it was the most awarded gin in Europe. I think it is safe to say that Hernö gin truly epitomises the definition of ‘success story’.
For the Juniper Cask edition, the team built 39.25l casks using Juniper wood (Juniper does not grow large enough to make anything larger), and using the original organic gin, let it rest for 30 days before bottling.
The bottle is a standard cylindrical shape with round shoulders and mid-length neck. The top is dipped in natural beeswax (four times by hand according to the label!) and the main body of the bottle is covered by a yellow printed (I think) label. On the front is the Hernö brand name and an image of one of the juniper casks, along with the vol., ABV., and organic provedence. Around the right side are a few of the awards, and a list of the botanicals, and on the back a description of the distillery and the gin. It’s simple and there’s nothing exceptional out about it, with the exception of the yellow, which is a lovely warm colour and makes it really stand out. The branding is the same across the bottles, with the image representing the gin (in this case the juniper cask).
A rich, warm juniper rises from the glass bringing sweet peppery undertones with it. It’s a heady aroma, luxurious and sensual, but with bright notes of meadowsweet and pepper. The vanilla and in particular the cassia bring another warmth, and bring sweet notes that to me are slightly reminiscent of juicy fruit chewing gum, which I mean as the highest compliment. Right at the end, the lemon comes through, but again with a thick almost candied quality. Everything is there in a wonderful play of rising and falling tones, like a symphony. I think it smells absolutely wonderful.
Neat, there is nothing quite like it. It is simply mind blowing. The liquid feels a little more viscous than other gins, and the flavour is that of quintessential gin, but intensified, as though sap from the wood has infused into the liquid. The juniper flavour is so rich, but not overpowering at all as it’s quickly joined by the pepper and cassia. Herbal notes follow and the meadowsweet comes through just before the lemon leaving a complex profile that lasts long after the liquid has gone. It’s less sweet than on the nose, but for me there is still a definite candied edge to the flavour that I love, though that’s not to say there aren’t a few wonderfully bitter notes to help cut through. This for me is one of the ultimate sipping gins.
Water softens and broadens the flavour, though the balance remains much the same, with the exception of the coriander coming out a little more for me, and the meadowsweet a touch. It obviously has a little less intensity, but all of the flavours are still there in spades and I’d argue it makes it a little easier to appreciate them. The longevity of the flavour is remarkable.
Finally, I did not go for a G&T. I honestly do not think that this gin is designed to be drunk with tonic, and checking the website the only cocktail they pair this gin with is a Negroni, so that’s what I’ve gone for…
Finally, a Negroni (60ml gin / 40ml Lillet / 30ml Campari, and as I don’t have an orange, I’ve added a dash of orange bitters). The result is absolutely wonderful, though I can say with certainty that this absolutely does not need any more vermouth or Campari! The ratios here are enough to let the gin shine through, and it certainly does that. However… I also feel like this gin just isn’t meant to be mixed with anything (except perhaps a dash of water if you like). Nice as this Negroni is, it’s not the best I’ve ever had, because in all honesty I just want to taste the gin more. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great Negroni (I also made Mrs Raven a Martini and that was quite possibly even better!), but for me at least, I’d rather have a different one and drink this gin neat.
It is a well known fact that Hernö produce amazing gin, and this is no exception, though it is exceptional. If you read my post about 2019’s Junipalooza, you’ll know this is where I first tried it. Not only that, but it topped my Gins of 2019. While yes it’s limited in that it is, in my eyes a gin to made only really to drink neat, and yes it’s expensive (though understandably as they can only make so many bottles from each small cask) it is nevertheless, in my opinion, an absolute must have. There really is nothing like it (that I’ve tried). It’s the perfect ‘special occasion’ gin, and should be shared with anyone who loves gin and who you want to show off to! You will not regret it.
Remove half a feather if you don’t like to drink gin neat.
Hernö Juniper Cask is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.