So, we know that gin is now everyone’s favourite tipple, but things started our very differently for this spirit! We thought as we love all things gin, that we would see what we could find out about it. Don’t worry! We’re not going to turn this into a boring history lesson -yawn, just thought we would give you a brief overview! There are a few facts that are quite interesting.
When it was first produced by the Dutch in the 16th century, Gin, or Genever, as it was known then was created by distilling a type of wine with certain herbs. Juniper berries were added because it apparently tasted pretty foul. This concoction was originally made to cure most ailments, mainly digestive issues such as gallstones and stomach complaints. Not sure if it worked but you know what to do next time you have belly ache! If you can stomach it of course! (Sorry).
It was then said that during the 30 Year War, which came next, the British soldiers fighting alongside the Dutch, enjoyed a nice shot or two of Gin before going into battle. It was said to make them feel calmer and more courageous, hence the term! Bet you didn’t know that’s where it came from!
It was so popular with British soldiers, that they brought it back to England with them. From then, it became ‘the thing’ to drink by the lower class, in fact, that period became known now as the ‘Gin Craze’. Gin was cheaper than beer at this time and so people even started distilling it in their homes!
Too Much for Orange
Although we at the Gin Inn think you can never have enough Gin, the people of England actually consumed so much of it, the government and the king at the time, William of Orange, (don’t ask), had to start passing laws to limit its consumption. This was due to the fact that crimes such as murder, theft, even insanity rose and was essentially, blamed on the drink. High taxes were put on the purchasing of Gin and licenses to sell were made both expensive and difficult to obtain.
I Predict a Riot
They really should have done! Like with any great thing that gets banned, Gin went underground and was consumed just as much. "The Gin Act, introduced in 1736, making gin prohibitively expensive, was a very bad idea, as riots broke out and the law was blatantly disregarded. Distillers simply stopped getting their licenses the official way but didn’t stop producing gin". (Source)
Luckily, after realising The Gin Act just wasn’t working, the powers that be introduced new legislation, which meant that although Gin was still more expensive than it had been before, it was reasonably priced for all. Licenses became more easily obtainable to trusted, responsible distillers and things became pretty much as they are now. Gin dipped in popularity for a while, becoming something that older people tended to drink. In the last few years however, it has become more popular than ever, being a favourite for cocktails and liqueurs.
So, that was our little educational journey into the history of Gin. We hope we didn’t bore you too much!