Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 15.13.48Whitbarrow Nature Reserve near Kendal is one of only a few places in England with abundant natural regeneration of Juniperand this autumn hosted The Lakes Distillery’s annual juniper foraging day sourcing the key ingredient for the award winning The Lakes Gin.

The Lakes Distillery, which has its head office based in Gosforth, Newcastle, is the only UK distilling operation with permission to use wild Cumbrian juniper in the production of gin thanks to its close relationship with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, one of the distillery’s local charity partners. The trust led a team from the distillery in the annual foraging event which also sourced other ingredients for The Lakes Gin including locally grown bilberry, heather and hawthorn.

As the charity partner for The Lakes Gin, Cumbria Wildlife Trust receives vital funding from The Lakes Distillery to help support the wildlife organisation with the protection and maintenance of the juniper used in the award-winning botanical gin.

“Juniper berries have grown wild on the Cumbrian fells for centuries,” explains founder and managing director of The Lakes Distillery, Paul Currie. “Our location within The Lake District National Park is central to The Lakes Distillery and has shaped both our spirits and our development. We always use local ingredients where available, including water directly from the River Derwent, so protecting our local habitat is of paramount importance to us.

“We are the only UK distilling operation which has permission to use juniper foraged locally and are proud to support Cumbria Wildlife Trust with its preservation of this precious plant which creates the flavour at the heart of our gin. We don’t rush the making of our gin in our small, artisan still allowing the essence of the juniper to be released, evoking a true sense of the Cumbrian fells.”

As well as juniper, of the fourteen total botanicals there are six found locally including  meadowsweet from Dubwath Silver Meadows just a mile from the distillery as well as local bilberry, heather, hawthorn and mint.

David Harpley, Conservation Manager from Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “Juniper is one of only three native species of conifer in the UK, with Cumbria being an important county for juniper scrub, having more extensive plants than anywhere else in England.

“The fruits and berries available in our region have long been used as ingredients in food and drink so it’s great to see that tradition being continued by The Lakes Distillery. Cumbrian juniper is at the heart of The Lakes Gin, making it a truly Lake District product, proud of its heritage.”

For more information on The Lakes Distillery please visit www.lakesdistillery.com.