“Doomsday,” “juniper war” and “chaos” are the current buzzwords surrounding British gin, according to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA). Distillers in the country are facing down a possible juniper berry shortage that could raise prices and put producers out of business, and it’s all because of Brexit.
The issue stems from the possibility that the U.K. won’t be able to strike a trade deal with the European Union. Gin relies on a range of botanicals that aren’t native to England, much of which comes from Europe. The most important of those botanicals is juniper, which is legally required for a gin to be a gin. Most juniper comes from Mediterranean nations, and if Brexit continues on without a trade deal, juniper and other imported botanicals won’t make it to British shores.
“The British gin industry is a great example of a booming trade that could be severely hampered if the so called ‘Brexit Armageddon’ scenario strikes,” Miles Beale, the chief executive of the WSTA, said according to the Independent. He went on to say that “doomsday Brexit” would hurt small gin distillers most, and could possible wipe out craft gin companies.
British gin has been booming in recent years. There are currently more than 315 gin distillers in the U.K., and more than 55 million bottles of gin were sold in 2017. Politics could muck it all up.
“Without juniper there is no gin,” Dan Szor, the founder of Cotswold Distillery, said. “Juniper grows wild and the success of the harvest is very much weather dependent, if we have a bad season and distillers are being forced to stockpile and I can see a juniper war kicking off.”
That said, Beale’s doomsday scenario is what could happen in the worst case. But sometimes the worst case does come to pass. American whiskey makers were worried about Inflated taxes on American whiskey in Europe if the Trump administration went through with tariffs on steel and aluminium. This month those tariffs went into effect and so did the new whiskey taxes. Whether British gin suffers an unfortunate fate not, it might be a good idea for fans to stock up on a couple bottles while the price is right.