10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gin...
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gin...
There's gin and tonic crisps, gin candles, a gin hotel and gin lip balm - the UK can't get enough of all things juniper, but this spirit's history is more colourful than a gin advent calendar.

1. 'Dutch Courage' was created for gin

The Dutch brought gin to the UK when William of Orange took the throne, turning the Dutch medicinal spirit, jenever, into the English gin.

2. London Dry Gin doesn’t have to be from London

The London in London Dry Gin doesn’t refer to location, it actually refers to the process. Historically, ‘dry gin’ as a term came about when the Coffey Still was created in 1832, as this produced a more consistent, more neutral and unsweetened spirit; which slowly became known as dry gin. As most of the distilleries producing this more refined were based in London, this got added to the front of the phrase. But nowadays, we take it to be a descriptor of the style, rather than where it’s made.

3. Gin was originally a medicine

Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician, created Jenever as a medicine during the 16th century. His high ABV spirit was believed to improve circulation among other ailments. During the Dutch Independence War, it was prescribed to soldiers as “Dutch Courage’ and further down the line in 1857 when the British Crown took over governance of India, the influx of Brits to the country and the creation of The British East India Trading Company meant that Brits were looking for a prescription for malaria. And the malaria medicine was the intensely bitter quinine (administered via tonic water), so in an effort to make the medicine more palatable; the British added gin, of course.

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4. A classic martini means gin, and it’s stirred, not shaken…

While the history is as murky as a very dirty martini, there’s no doubt that a classic martini means gin, stirred. Sorry Bond, James Bond. Although the general consensus is that the Martini was created at Julio Richelieu’s bar in Martinez, California around the year 1870. Julio made a gin and vermouth concoction and dropped an olive into the drink before serving it to the customer. Allegedly.

5. It’s not the Brits who drink the most gin…

Although we’re guzzling gallons of the stuff (66m bottles were sold in 2018), we’re not the biggest wedge of the global gin market. That crown goes to the Philippines, who drink 43% of the global gin market. They even have a Tagalog word for a gin-drinking session; “Ginuman.

6. The Queen drinks every day

The Queen is a girl after our own heart, enjoying a gin and Dubonnet (a sweet, aromatised wine-based aperitif) with ice and a slice of lemon every day before lunch.

7. Gin basically invented the vending machine

While the government tried to crack down on the gin craze, a savvy Englishman named Captain Dudley Bradstreet created a secret system to keep up with drinking; a Tomcat with a tube in its paw known as a puss and mew. A customer would say ‘puss puss’ at the cat and put a coin in its mouth, and a shot of gin was delivered through its paw.

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8. The (first) gin craze lead to the breakdown of society in the early 18th century…

The breakup of the London Guild of Distillers and a mild tiff with France (…and its brandy) led to the British government actually encouraging gin production. British citizens took to gin production like ducks to water and by the early 18th Century, propaganda of the day (like Hogarth’s Gin Lane) was painting gin abuse as a drug epidemic known as ‘the gin craze’, leading to child neglect, drinking instead of working, missed rent payments and general downfall of civilisation as we know it. Luckily, the second gin craze has been much more civilised.

9. The modern-day gin-aissance we’re currently enjoying was revived and lead by Sipsmith.

Pre-2009, there were only a few brands in the British gin market, and all of them were conglomerate-owned as an arcane British law stated that a pot still needed to be 18 hectares in size, which ruled out craft distillers with smaller budgets. Sipsmith’s founders challenged this law, and won, paving the way for distilling licences to all distillers who wanted one. Which on last count, was 315 in the UK. Phew.

10. Currently, there are over 2,000 brands of gins on the shelves

The gin boom is showing no signs of slowing, but all good things must come to an end. So what’s next? It’s obvious that drinkers are enjoying the flavour flexibility that gin allows, so we’re predicting that Botanical Vodkas (we’re loving Ketel One & Manly Spirits Botanical Vodkas) will be huge in the next few years.

Posted on June 05, 2019 Category Cocktails