A Fungus-Like Disease Threatens Europe’s Supply of Gin

This is the first time the disease, which was discovered in Argentina around five years ago, has turned up in Europe


G&T drinkers take heed: juniper trees, whose berries give gin its flavor, are being threatened by a decimating fungus-like pathogen, similar to the one that caused the Irish potato blight. Popular Science reports on this disturbing threat to European gin supplies:

An Phytophthora austrocedrae infection turns tree crowns reddish brown. Inside the trees’ trunks and branches, the wood turns brown in long, tongue-like streaks where it should be white. Infections are “often” deadly, according to the U.K.’s Forestry Commission. Some counties in southern England have lost 60 to 70 percent of their juniper trees, The Telegraph reported last week.

The pathogen responsible for the disease was discovered in Argentina around five years ago and hadn’t turned up in Europe until now, Popular Science writes. (The one in the U.K., though, is a unique strain, so it probably didn’t come from South America.) Thankfully, gin makers tend to source their juniper berries from countries other than the U.K., where the disease seems contained, at least for now, ABC reports. But companies worry that the pathogen could spread into mainland Europe, which could be a serious bane to Old World gin makers. Better get drinking while supplies last.

More from Smithsonian.com:

A Rustic Gin and Tonic Recipe  
The Rickey Declared D.C.’s Native Cocktail 

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