The science of alcohol
The science of alcohol

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5.1 The chemistry of the juniper berry

A class of organic compounds commonly found in the juniper berry is known as the monoterpenes. By definition, the monoterpenes represent a large group of volatile compounds found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees. They are based on a cyclic molecule having the formula C10H16.

Examples of such monoterpene compounds present in the juniper berry which contribute to the flavour of the gin include: α (alpha)-pinene, β (beta)-myrcene, limonene, terpinene, para-cymene and sabinene. The structures of each of these are illustrated, together with the tastes they impart, in Figure 6. In Week 3 you learned about how different compounds manifest different taste sensations, so you may wish to go back and revisit that section for a reminder of how your body interprets the flavours imparted by different compounds.

Described image
Figure 6 Some predominant flavours in the juniper berry contributing to the taste of gin

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