Brief History of Gin Making

There are quite a few versions of the history of gin. When and where gin originated? We’re not exactly sure which story is the real one. But, let’s discuss what we know. 

Gin has had quite an eventful history. There was a time where an early version of gin became a “cure” for an illness in a pandemic and gin even brought some crazy times in England. It comes from the Dutch word “Jenever,” which means Juniper, the main botanical of gin. The name was shortened to “gin” because apparently, people in England had a hard time pronouncing Genever back then. Some experts are also saying that it became gin because the British got too drunk from it to pronounce Genever. The latter sounds fun. We dig it! 

Juniper Berries started out as a medicine

Juniper Berries and botanicals in Bright Night Gin

Gin wasn’t always that drink that people go to whenever they wanted to have fun or relax. It wasn’t always that drink that some people turn to when they want to drink away their sorrows either. Gin first started out as a medicine! Yes, for sick people. Unbelievable, right? Well, at least, the early version of gin which was juniper mixed with wine. 

In the middle ages, juniper berries were widely used by doctors due to its healing properties. The juniper plant itself was believed to have a number of healing properties that they even planted whole villages with it in hopes that it would prevent the spread of the plague. The Dutch came up with “Genever,” and used it as a medicine.

How did it reach England? When William III of Orange ascended his throne in 1689, he brought Genever with him to England. The rest was history (that we’re going to discuss, obviously).

The Gin Craze / Insane times in England

Once the 1700s came, the Dutch drink Genever finally became the drink that we now call “Gin.”

Now, we have all heard of The Gin Craze. But how did it begin and how did it actually go?

Basically, the “craze” began when The Corn Law allowed people in England to distil gin without a license. This started some crazy times in Britain and a dark chapter in the history of Gin as everyone almost literally started distilling gin. During these times, a pint of gin was literally cheaper than a pint of beer!

Although of course, cheap doesn’t mean good quality. From what history says, most gin back then tasted unpleasant as there was a shortage of the proper ingredients for every distiller. This caused them to replace the botanicals with other ingredients that taste similar to the ones you would normally use in gin.

This is also caused many people in England to start drinking gin irresponsibly. Due to the highly intoxicating effects of gin, this was a big problem as people would either go insane or die due to overconsumption. It was also blamed for a lot of negligible actions such as murders!

To put an end to this problem, England finally introduced a gin distilling license which cost 50 Euros at that time. If you convert to today’s currency is around 8000 Euros and that’s a lot! This put an end to the gin craze as only the richer families of England were able to afford the license and make gin. 

The recovery of the Gin Industry

Distilling Bright Night Gin

After the gin distilling licenses were put into law, the gin industry became better, but still not at their very best. Because of the gin craze, gin turned into the most vilified spirit in England, so the industry had a long way to go in terms of redeeming themselves. 

The Gin Act of 1751 made sure that alcohol consumption went down by increasing the taxes and licensing costs of making Gin. Making it more expensive to make, sell, and buy. After the 1830s, things finally started looking better for gin! The quality of gin became better and distillers competed to make the purest form of gin. From an intoxicating, dangerous drug, the image of gin turned into a fashionable drink that even the royal families loved. 

Gin Today

Bright Night Gin, a Wild Tasmanian Gin

The gin that we enjoy today comes in plenty of forms. The traditional London Dry Gin is still enjoyed by millions of people across the globe as well as classics like the Old Tom gin, and etc. Distillers are also becoming more flexible when making gin and many modern gins are popping up everywhere. 

We’re most definitely glad that gin exists to be what it is today! 

Do you love gin? How do you feel knowing that gin has such a crazy yet rich history? Let us know!

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