Sometime called mountain yew, juniper is a hardy low-growing tree found in mountainous and hilly areas. It is thought to have been used as a flavouring since the Stone Age, and has also been considered to have various medicinal properties since medieval times. It was one of the aromatic herbs used to flavour whisky, and more famously as a flavouring for gin. Indeed in the 19th century, sacks full of berries were sent to markets in Aberdeen and Inverness, for exporting to Holland to make gin. All parts of the tree were believed to have the power to ward off evil; for example in Sutherland, teething rings for babies were made from juniper wood to protect the babies from harm. See The Scots Herbal, by Tess Darwin, for more information about juniper and its history in Scotland.
We try and use berries that we pick on Kenmore Hill; they are fiddly and difficult to pick especially as the foliage is quite spiky! However, you do not need many to get a lovely flavour, and when combined with the chocolate creates a wonderful fresh flavour – like the smell of a frosty winter day.