The History of Gin

16th century: The origin of Gin – it is not England!

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Most of the people think that Gin comes from England or Ireland. But it is not true! What actually very few know: Gin is originally from the Netherlands. Since the Middle Ages people knew about the medical effects and the disinfectant healing power of juniper berries which were consumed to fight against fever and even the pest. The dutch doctor Franciscus Sylvius de la Boe is the inventor of Gin. In the 16th century, he made a schnaps distilled with juniper berries, so called “Genever” (in dutch: juniper berry) which was consumed for medical purposes. During the Eighty Year’s War (1568-1648) the dutch soldiers were supposed to drink the “Genever” to feel brave. In the 17th century “Genever” came to England, where the originally “Genever” developed to the today’s “Gin”.

17th century: Gin in England – Gin becomes very popular

In England, Gin became very popular. Gin promoted not only the production of local spirits, everybody was allowed to distill his own Gin. The increase of import taxes for alcohol from foreign countries and the high taxes for the local beers and wines had lead to an explosion of Gin production in England. Everyone tried his best in getting his own Gin, even by mixing the ingredients in a bathtub. The Englands were constantly drunken. Due to Gin being low priced, the quality had no precised value. The alcohol, distilled with cheap cereals, was very often diluted by using turpentine oil and sulfuric acid. At last sugar and rose water were added to give flavors and dilute the unwanted taste.

Antique Bathtub

18th century: High Gin consumption in England – 47 millions of liters in a year

The Gin consumption increased very fast. In 1733 the Englands consumed average of 47 millions of liters! Crimes, prostitution, high death rates and an increasing decline of births were the consequences.

To save the English society from collapse and alcoholism, the government passed eight different Gin Bills between 1729 and 1751, the so-called “Gin Acts”, to regulate the Gin consumption. The quality improved and the prices rose again. England and the reputation of Gin was safe, the Gin epidemic ended in the end of the 19th century.

19th century: The first Gin Tonic is from India

Gin Tonic

Luckily the quality of Gin preserved. The question arises, when exactly one of the most requested long drinks in the world, Gin Tonic, emerged? When Britain occupied India in the beginning of the 19th century, the soldiers had to ingest quinine every day to prevent Malaria. To cover the bitter taste, the smart Britains added water, sugar and lime. One day, someone got the glorious idea and added Gin. The first Gin Tonic was born.

The Biritsh tradesman Erasmus Bond created a Tonic Water including carbon dioxid and sold the new-born long drink Gin Tonic for the first time in 1858.

20th century until today: Gin is in!

The last years Gin became something of a cult. In Germany, hundreds of distillers followed the British lead, only in 2018, 180 different Gin types popped up in the market – convincing by great quality and unique tastes. The small Belgium surprises with 430 local Gins and Spain is with astounding 463 local Gins full of big Gin lovers.

The most interesting fact of Gin: We drink it almost exclusively in long drinks and cocktails, but the predominant taste of Gin isn’t lost. Contrary to other spirits, Gin has its everlasting individual taste which can be very diversified – sweet, lemon, bitter – you will find the perfect taste you love. 

The Gin from England is strong, with predominant juniper taste, containing little botanicals. The Spanish Gin is mostly smooth, mediterranean, sweet and French cherish their bloomy, fresh Gin with lots of lemon.

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