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Distilling with juniper in Europe almost certainly goes back to the 11th century when the learned monks of Salerno in Italy were making medicinal potions by distilling a wine spirit together with various roots, berries and herbs. Because juniper grows so freely in Italy and
was known to be of therapeutic value, we can safely assume that at least one of the monks’ medicines was based on juniper. Juniper flavoured distillates made appearances at various times from then onwards, still as medicinal cordials. In monasteries and noble houses throughout Europe spirits flavoured with herbs, flowers and berries were made and used to treat ailments. Juniper cordials were particularly popular during the years of the Black Death, the epidemics of plague, which stalked Europe in the mid 14th century because juniper was believed to protect against the deadly disease. In the 15th century a son of French king Louis 1V came up with a wine flavoured with juniper called “the wine of the poor”.


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