History of Gin
Gin is one of the most popular spirit drinks in the UK, with ‘gin and tonic’ one of the most refreshing beverages. Many people think that gin originated in England, but unfortunately, the English cannot lay claim to inventing this drink.
The English discovered gin during the times of the Thirty Years’ War, way back in the 17th Century in Holland. Dutch soldiers drank ‘Jenever’, the closest relation to gin many years ago. It was often consumed prior to going into conflict, hence the term ‘Dutch Courage’! However, gin did not commence manufacture in England until the 18th Century, and one of the most famous gin houses is that of Plymouth Gin, which is still in existence today. Now it is drunk for pleasure in cocktails and of course with tonic or whatever combination suits the palate, although in the early days it was used for medicinal purposes to treat many ailments including gout, whilst sailors in the navy would use it to prevent scurvy!
There are no restricted ‘denominations’ for gin – there are many gins called ‘London Gin’ which are not manufactured in London whatsoever. The only restrictive title is that of ‘Plymouth Gin’ which is one of the oldest working distilleries in the UK, and was once a former monastery. This distillery is well worth a visit to learn about the production of gin over the centuries, and of course, to taste this unique blend.
Production of Gin
All brands of gin use juniper as a prime ingredient, but each gin produced has its own unique blend of ‘botanicals’, ie. a combination of herbs and spices to give the unique flavours and aromas of each specific manufacturer. Flavours such as black pepper, rose, lavender, lemongrass and even cucumber can be used in gin, along with others such as coriander, citrus, cinnamon, almond and liquorice, to name but a few. New brands on the market continue to introduce other botanicals – there is no limit and no rules for its production. Many skilled or artisan distillers who are experienced in their trade, will know exactly what balance of flavours to use and have spent years making this spirit to perfection.
The production of so many different types and flavours of gin has accelerated the growth of ‘gin clubs’, which have had a meteoric rise in popularity in the last ten years. These were created specifically for connoisseurs of gin, who desire to try many different gin flavours on a regular basis, usually on a subscription basis. They are certainly worth a try if you love gin.