gin and tonic trivia! Gin night is something that brings all the ladies together for a fun night in or out, but one topic of conversation that may not come up in the evening festivities is the unique history of how gin came to be in our glassware.
One reason why gin tastes so good is that the earliest dating history of an early form of gin relates to it being used as a herbal medicine in 70 A.D. however, gin truly became a commercial world favourite by way of Dutch innovation, though in a much different early style.
Let’s Go Dutch!
Back in the 1600s, a Dutch scientist formulated juniper berry oil as medicine, adding it to distilled spirit along with botanicals to make it more palatable. This early attempt saw illness rates soar due to how palatable it was! With demand so high for it, numerous small distilleries were forged and the more commercial, non-medicinal version of gin came to be.
Gin production’s interesting origins can be traced back to the 13th century in the Netherlands, with the 1600s seeing Amsterdam becoming one of the largest homes for gin distilling. It is said that ‘Dutch Courage’ was spawned by British soldiers fighting alongside the Dutch during the Thirty Years War whilst showing incredible bravery. Of course, that bravery is said to have come from that specialist gin they held in their belts.
No doubt tales of that magic potion fighting bravery contributed to the mass popularity in the UK as soon as those boys came home from the war.
Child of the Revolution
When French Brandy was boycotted due to William of Orange’s conflict with France, gin’s popularity once again soared. With French Brandy off the market and gin being comparatively cheaper than a pint of beer, demand not only skyrocketed for gin but it also was classed as a safer drink due to its distillation process killing off all bacteria.
However, there were problems in that the heightened demand resulted in unregulated production, and that used poor quality grain to make a poor quality product. In the early 18th century, gin sales shot up in popularity with 70 million litres of gin produced for a population of 6 million. If you think that is an impressive feat, try adding the fact that one in five people in London were illegally distilling gin in their own homes too!
Whilst these people found a second use for their bathtubs and started to set up their high-street stalls, hot gin and gingerbread became one of the first recorded combinations. This is a reason why you can easily find gingerbread-flavoured gins with practically every brand to this day. If you don’t think gingerbread and gin go together, you are centuries wrong!
These are just some of the interesting facts about your favourite tipple to share among friends on your next gin and tonic trivia night, with a lot more to come. For more information on our gin company, discover our fabulous products available in our shop and know the quality when you taste it.