Page 30

Zoom Zoom Magazine Issue 29

30 \ZOOM-ZOOM Nestled in the beautiful gardens of Wakehurst Place, the Millennium Seed Bank’s unassuming building is the world’s largest wild species seed bank, and it is where the seeds of all types of juniper berry now safely reside, thanks to the work of Simon Kallow and the Tree Seed Project. Over the past four years the Tree Seed Project has collected, dried, frozen and banked 54 juniper seed collections from across the British Isles. We are shown around the -20°C vault by scientist Patricia Wood who, by sheer coincidence, is a former Mazda employee. Should the worst happen and the plant go extinct — juniper is threatened in the UK by a fungus-like pathogen called Phytophthora austrocedri, while the plant’s habitat is being destroyed by overgrazing and poor land management — the Seed Bank will use its juniper seed collection to reintroduce the shrub. Given one of the only two requirements for an alcohol to qualify as gin is an overriding flavour of juniper, it’s clear why the Bank’s work is so important to the UK’s craft distillers. There are gin distilleries all across the UK, but visiting one 300 miles away in North Wales is as good an excuse as any to drive the latest Mazda6. Our SKYACTIV-D Sport Nav model effortlessly eats up the motorway miles and we eventually cut into Wales at Shrewsbury, heading for the A470 that bisects the Snowdonia National Park. The mountainous landscape and its twisty, technical roads bring out the best in the car which, despite its luxurious length, proves nimble and responsive. Early next morning we take in the stunning Pen y Pass before joining Chris at Snowdonia Distillery, about ten miles south of Llandudno. Chris, a former investment manager from the local area, opened the distillery in 2015, launching with two gins, one of which has already won a World Gin Award. In the snug surrounds of the distillery, he tells us that, as a spirit, gin offers the distiller a creative blank canvas. As long as the final product has a flavour of juniper and at least 37.5% ABV, the rest is up to the creativity of the distiller. Consequently, distillers have let their imaginations run wild when choosing ingredients, and you’ll find gins made with ingredients as diverse as seaweed, saffron and sake. These exciting drinks have caught the eye of millennials, who, surveys reveal, are one and a half times more likely than over-45s to drink gin. Chris takes a truly artisan approach to crafting his gin. The ingredients for his two products, Forager’s Yellow Label and Black Label, are foraged by hand from within 30 miles of the At the Millennium Seed Bank, scientists have now catalogued and collected all types of British juniper, ensuring gin’s future


Zoom Zoom Magazine Issue 29
To see the actual publication please follow the link above