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Spirits

A Taste of Africa

Procera and Juniper

October 10 , 2022 —  The introduction of a new gin is exciting news to gin lovers everywhere.  And when it comes from Kenya’s first craft distillery, that’s really something we all want to know about.  But it gets better.  All the botanicals are from the continent of Africa as is the stunning bottle, cork and label.

Procera Gin was founded to share the very best of Africa with the world.  Virtually every gin distiller in the world uses dried juniper berries, which is simply a case of logistics.  Procera, on the other hand, uses fresh berries.  Their berries grow just 34 miles from the distillery in the highland forest of Kijabe where Juniperus Procera trees grow to heights of 65 feet or more.  The name Procera comes from the Latin word “procerus” for tall or towering and these majestic trees produce the only juniper species indigenous to the southern hemisphere. The elevation of the sun-drenched forest is over 7,000 feet and the berries encapsulate the flavor and terroir of this special region. 

A dozen other botanicals, sourced from across Africa, play a pivotal role in making Procera so special:

  • Pink Peppercorn from Madagascar 
  • Coriander and Orris Root from Morocco 
  • Juniper, Swahili Lime, Pixie Orange and Green Tea from Kenya 
  • Acacia Honey from Somalia 
  • Cardamom and Mace from Zanzibar 
  • Selim and Pepper from Nigeria

Procera is distilled in a bespoke Müller 230L Aromat pot still by Master Distiller Roger Jorgensen, the unofficial godfather of craft distilling in Africa. Jorgensen describes the process:  “Our botanicals are placed in a ‘pillowcase’ and steeped in the spirit base at a warm maceration temperature of 40°C, which extracts the essential oils and natural fresh flavors without cooking them. No organic materials are placed in the pot during distillation, which accounts for Procera’s elegant texture and soft mouth feel, while still delivering a rare intensity and complexity on the palate.”

ProceraCloseUpHarvesterJuniper_4x5
Harvested Juniper

Sustainability is at the core of Procera’s mission and no detail is overlooked in this quest.  The makers of Procera have a vision to reforest the Kenyan highlands with Procera trees. Since the gin’s inception the makers of Procera have planted one new tree per bottle sold. The distillery in Nairobi has a pioneering, zero waste water system.

Procera Image
Procera bottle

As a part of their goal to create long-term partnerships with local communities, the distinctive Procera bottle is painstakingly hand-blown from 100% recycled glass by nearby artisans.  It is a thing of beauty and a far cry from the usual bottling line. No two bottles are identical, and each is hand engraved with its own unique production number.

The hand carved stoppers are made by a collective of artisans in Kili on the Indian Ocean coast, while a hand-tied African leather strap around the bottle’s neck provides an elegant grip. The bottle’s neck tag is printed on recycled water hyacinth paper to help re-oxygenate Lake Victoria by removing this invasive species.

Procera is producing three styles of gin and since the exquisite bottle bears only a minimal clear label to preserve its elegance and integrity, each individual style of gin is denoted by a colored dot – blue, red or green.  It is rather whimsical, to say the least and can be something of a mental acuity test if you have all three lined up!

Blue Dot 2021 Vintage is the original release.  The juniper is intense but this is fresh juniper, not dried, and there is a difference.  It is complex and layered, a bit peppery but very smooth.  It has a full mouth feel similar to the mouth feel experienced with a complex red wine.  Blue Dot is a sipping gin or perfect for a martini. It is 44% ABV $84.99.

Red Dot 2021 Vintage is bold and robust designed for classic cocktails such as the negroni and of course the ubiquitous gin and tonic or martini.  Its complexity and spiciness combine well with the other flavors of gin based cocktails.  It is 51% ABV $88.50.

Green Dot 2021 Vintage is a rare experience.  This gin is distilled with only botanicals that hail from the juniper tree.  Berries, foliage and toasted wood create three distinctive and balanced layers.  It is creamy and buttery, not adjectives I’ve applied to gin in the past.  Again, the lovely mouth feel lingers at the end.  It is a versatile gin suitable for most drink styles but for me this is definitely a gin for sipping neat by the fire during winter or enjoying a summer sunset (maybe with an ice cube).  It is 47% ABV $119.50

One more thing . . . .

Each bottle of gin comes with a small glass jar of Botanical Salt attached.  Procera’s botanical salts are intended to enhance the gin’s flavor in mixed drinks.  They are made by combining finely ground botanicals used in the distillation of each gin with Indian Ocean sea salt.  With the salt, other traditional garnishes are not necessary.

Where to buy . . . .

Procera is available at select retailers in New York and Massachusetts or through Mash & Grape.com

ProceraClose up of Juniper berries being harvested
Juniper berries being harvested

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