Working on Sake Gin launch

We have bottled the first batch of Sake Gin in Saaremaa. The bottles will reach stores by the end of the year.

The new Sake Gin uses local rice-like juniper berries, a new juniper species that is yet to be officially named. The locals in Saaremaa have called the species Rice Juniper for centuries, but it is not known outside the island. It has been a well-kept secret of the island’s inland areas.

Here is an old photograph from the local museum.

Historic picture of Rise Junpier fields in Saaremaa

Historic picture of Rise Junpier fields in Saaremaa

The official naming of the juniper species is due to happen in 2023, at the next International Botanical Congress. While classical juniper trees crave dry soil, the so-called rice juniper is extremely sensitive to water shortages. To ensure sufficient water, most rice juniper fields need mechanical watering to maintain flooded conditions in the field during the few weeks of Estonian summer.

“The island gets a lot of low-intensity sunlight throughout the year, and with the increasingly rainy weather – the region’s weather could be easily compared to the legendary English weather – it is a perfect habitat for the so-called rice juniper,” said professor Peter O'Kenowefa from Rice J University.

Estonian gin Lahhentagge on shop shelf in riga

Estonian gin Lahhentagge on shop shelf in riga

“We are trying to jump-start the old distilling industry on the island. Finding these juniper fields in some little-visited areas in the centre of the island was like finding that X mark on old treasure maps,” said Maarit Pöör, co-founder of Lahhentagge. “We are getting sake’s rice effect without growing rice separately – with rice juniper it’s like a 2-in-1.”

The health effects of rice juniper are currently being investigated in joint studies by Rice J University and the University of Sigulda in Latvia. The latter’s recent study on gin’s effects on metabolism, suggesting that gin could help your body burn calories faster, put the little-known university on the world map.

Whether sake gin has similar, or even larger positive impacts on your health, than just gin requires further study.

Juniper floods in Saaremaa

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Please note: the story was published on april fool's day. we have had floods in saaremaa, but no rice juniper grows on the island. (as far as we know).

sake gin is a good idea, but we have to find some other way to make it.