Dutch Courage. Ladies’ Delight. Mother’s Ruin – whatever you want to call it, gin is one of the most resilient spirits on the UK shores, kicking Vodka off the popularity throne and enjoying a renaissance. How did these tasty gins – including Hunter’s Gin – become the drink of choice for many in England? Well – let’s take a little step back to discover the answer.
Something for the Pain
If you look back through time, gin has played an integral part in medical history, alchemy, politics and the birth of national identity and the working class. It also links with imperialism, the spice trade, war, disease and prohibition in England. Gin is not just a part of our history – it is woven into our fabric.
The origin can be debated, but most accept that the first taste of what became Gin in England was in Sir Hugh Plat’s Delightes for Ladies. By the year 1621, London had a little over 200 registered distillers. The Dutch influence on England is also integral to Gin creation. The Dutch imported genever, legally and by way of smuggling, and British Distilleries were quick to use it as a measure for comparison.
Britain also had a Dutch King William III in 1968, whose ascension prompted more English people to take to Gin drinking as an act of patriotic duty.
The Parliament Act
In 1690, Parliament would pass an act that lowered the duties on spirits made from English corn, whilst also banning the supply of French brandy. The combination of cheap surplus farmer corn and deregulation meant that absolutely anyone could set up their distillery – resulting in quality and prices plummeting. By 1720, Gin was everywhere – although many were very amateur efforts.
By the 18th century, London was in absolute chaos! Many people were drowning their sorrows in Gin, which is why it carries the nickname of Mother’s Ruin. Gin was cheaper, strong and available for everyone. By 1730, gin consumption had reached 13,638,276 litres!
Consumption of Gin was viewed as an act of civil disobedience, resulting in many government acts passing and the price of grain soaring. By the end of the 1830s, the government had had enough and put prices back up, resulting in most gin palaces running dry.
Back in 2008, there were only twelve gin distilleries in the UK. Gin was waiting for its time to come around again – and it had help from the United States.
People stateside became enamoured with stories of small breweries and the people behind them, giving rise to the craft beer movement the UK saw in 2005. Renewed interest in local products and family-run businesses spilt into the world of spirits, and Gin again began to spread in popularity.
Whilst we have a fascinating history, we also have stories for another day. We will come back to find out how Hunter’s Gin – a Cheshire gin company – and the history of gin have become this country’s most loved tipple, but you can begin to enjoy Hunter’s Gin today by browsing our online store and finding your next favourite tasty gins whilst we enjoy where the history unfolds ahead.