Oregon Juniper Wood Is The Secret Ingredient In New Gin From Sweden

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Here’s a cheery story for Wednesday morning..again, thanks to Forest Business Network.

“In Sweden we make small butter knives out of juniper wood, and just smelling one of these knives you get a great juniper smell. I wondered, if we make a big barrel out of this, what would we get out of it taste-wise?” Hillgren says.

To make a traditional Swedish cask, Hillgren needed thick juniper staves with as few knots as possible, to prevent leaks. His distillery is located just a few miles from Sweden’s largest sawmills, but he couldn’t find juniper wood anywhere in Europe that met his specifications. So he searched Google, and found the In The Sticks sawmill in Fossil, Oregon.

Kendal Derby, a rangeland ecologist, founded the mill so that juniper cut during range restoration projects wouldn’t go to waste. Few of Oregon’s larger sawmills are willing to work with it. Hillgren began emailing Derby, and was delighted to find another small artisan business halfway across the world.

“We haven’t met each other, but we’re doing business very well. It’s all about trust. It’s a perfect cooperation,” Hillgren says.

Derby agrees. “It was fun. When we first started talking about it, I was headed out the door to go elk hunting. Jon promptly wrote back and said ‘we go elk hunting in Sweden too,’” he remembers.

2 Comments

  1. That is a good story. I know there has always been a struggle with what to do with the Juniper. I saw where a Juniper mill was auctioned off this summer.
    I have seen it mostly made into landscape timbers. Good to see it being put to a higher use. With custom distilleries becoming more popular maybe the market will grow. Think of all the Juniper there is in the West.

  2. Interesting post, thanks. Though they actually don’t go “elk hunting” in Scandinavia, because the elk as we know it doesn’t live there. They’re talking about moose. I had the hardest time figuring this out when I was in Norway (and trying to explain to my Norwegian friends what an elk is, probably reindeer is their closest relative). Until I realized that the Norwegian word for “moose” is “elg” (Älg in Swedish). Went trail running in the hills above Oslo and ran smack into a moose/elg. Same as what often happens to me here in Idaho, some things never change….

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