Meet the Distiller
Aare Ormus – Junimperium Distillery
Aare Omus’ relationship with gin began in 1978 with his girlfriend, a long bike ride, and, with no tonic available to him in those days, a can of mango juice on the secluded Estonian island of Hiiumaa.
Now, 35 years later, he is the Ginchemist and Chief Distiller at Junimperium – the Estonian company awarded the IWSC 2022 International Gin Producer Trophy for their impressive range.
His love of mixing and blending began during his childhood in a homemade laboratory in his parents’ house where he helped his father brew beer and wine; a hobby that led to studies in Food Chemistry & Biotechnology at Tallinn Technical University in Estonia.
He went on to forge a successful career, but distilling became his full-time job when he met fashion designer and gin enthusiast Tarvo Jaansoo; an encounter that led to the formation of Junimperium in 2019.
Their exploits have helped thrust Estonian gin onto the world stage, with Junimperium collecting more than 70 medals including the best Sloe in 2022, and best Navy Strength this year.
“The initial motivation behind creating Junimperium was a general dissatisfaction about the gins that were available,” Aare explained.
“We believed we could produce better gin but never dreamed we would accomplish the level of recognition we have since achieved.
“It assures us that our ambition to make better gin was well placed.
“We are very satisfied with our gins and although they were not initially designed for the mass market, the recognition is very important to us.
“It gives us confidence that we have created something that other gin connoisseurs and the drinks market appreciates.
“Together, we have made several great gins and put Estonia on the world gin map.”
Aare, who takes great pride in the produce of his home country, uses a unique five-Juniper mix, two of which are sourced from the Estonian islands of Hiiummaa and Saaremaa, with the remaining three imported from abroad.
“We try to source as many of our ingredients as possible from Estonia and use homegrown grain and local herbs and berries to distil the spirit,” he explained.
“Estonia is a small country – there are only 1.3 million people living here, so the market is quite small.
“But it has been a great pleasure to see that gins from all over the world have become available in most of the supermarkets.
“As the popularity of gin has grown rapidly, there are also lots of different options in the Estonian market.
“We now have more than ten handcrafted local gin producers together with big companies and competition is tough.
“Estonian consumers and producers have come a long way from a vodka and beer-based market to what we have now.”
Aare was installed into the Gin Guild in October 2022, and said he had been surprised and delighted to achieve the recognition.
“It is awesome to be part of such a special community and to be able to communicate freely with all the Gin Guild members,” he said.
“The biggest benefit to me is to get new ideas and fresh information about the gin world, and of course the help from great distillers if needed.”
Jumimperium goes from strength to strength, offering a popular distillery tour and they hope they can expand their international sales.
There are also plans to push boundaries with future creations.
Aare said: “We are working on some exciting new flavours and ways to serve and define gin.
“However, our ideas may be too provocative, so we need to work on them some more before we introduce them.
“We remain passionate about gin and are very intrigued by all the possibilities we discover during our work.”