In May I visited Italy to learn more about the botanicals used in Bombay Sapphire. From Tuscany they get both the juniper berries and orris used in the gin.
In the rolling hills of Tuscany at high elevations where there are few trees and many wildflowers are found the juniper bushes.
They're kind of ugly, sprawling little bushes.
They're full of clusters of berries- more than I'd expect. We were there during the off season, so not many are the blue color of ripe berries.
Juniper is harvested by hand, using wide round baskets and short sticks.
They stick the baskets beneath a branch and whack it with the stick so that the blue, ripe berries fall off but the green, unripe ones do not.
Some of the needles stick to the berries. Any green ones that get in are sorted out later.
I tried it, but wasn't very good at it.
But then again, there weren't actually any ripe berries to harvest at this time of year.