Taranaki home to the new goddess of gin
Many great things can be found at the foot of Mt Taranaki. Now the world’s second best region can add gin to its
highlight reel, thanks to the newly released Juno Gin.
Juno is the handiwork of husband-and-wife team Jo and Dave James. Two years ago this unassuming couple, who met at
primary school in New Plymouth, left their careers and combined their science backgrounds and passion for gin to start
dreaming and experimenting to craft their ideal gin.
“I love gin,” says Jo. “It’s been a favourite drink of mine since I was a teenager and I’ve always loved to cook. So
what we’re doing with Juno is like a recipe for happiness—we’re able to play with flavour and create a product that I
Experiments with flavour profiles and distilling techniques began on their kitchen bench using a two-litre copper still,
which they affectionately christened Willy. As they refined the Juno recipe, a 10-litre still titled Jenny took their
labour of love to the next level.
Eventually, Dave put his engineering background to work by designing, from scratch, a 400-litre still called Lila, built
collaboratively with the Taranaki engineering firm Rivet. Today Lila can produce a whopping 450 700ml bottles of gin per
day and, with word spreading about this Taranaki gem of gins, it shouldn’t be long before Lila is working at full
That demand was given a boost at the recent Auckland Food Show with attendees (including celebrity chefs) admiring
Juno’s uniquely citrus, floral and aromatic notes—flavours that Jo and Dave explain are distinctly Kiwi.
Juno source almost all of their botanicals (the plants used to flavour the alcohol) locally. “Our Orris Root comes from
Hawke’s Bay,” describes Dave, “Coriander seed from the Wairarapa, we use Taranaki mountain water, a citrus orchard is
being established here in Taranaki and we work with a limery on the East Coast.” Juno also produce limited edition
seasonal gins that are developed from hand-selected local ingredients harvested at the peak of perfection.
“We are even talking with local horticulturalists and iwi to possibly grow juniper (the main flavour used to create gin)
as a commercial crop,” expounds Jo. “We’re applying for funding now to do the first crop trials.”
As a former conservation consultant, the idea of introducing a new environmentally sustainable crop to New Zealand’s
horticultural landscape excites Dave: “Sustainability is one of our core values. We use rainwater from our roof for
cooling processes, we use extremely efficient heating techniques and we’ve developed a capacity to re-use our botanicals
rather than discard them. For example, our juniper is sent to a local chocolatier to be used in making chocolate
Juno Gin is available for purchase at a growing number of liquor outlets and restaurants/bars and can be ordered direct