A short history of gin
Gin is a clear spirit that is usually not aged. It was developed from Genever, a traditional Belgian and Dutch spirit. Just like Genever, gin is given its distinct fragrance and taste by juniper berries. Thanks to Belgian and Flemish traditions we use other fragrances for the aromatisation of gin as well, such as various fruit, herbs and spices. The juniper berries that give the beverage its distinct character, however, must never be omitted.
Juniper berries have been used as traditional medicine throughout history, and just like juniper schnapps, Genever was initially used to alleviate stomach problems. Soon after, people started using it for its intoxicating qualities and it earned itself the nickname “Dutch courage”, as it was consumed by Dutch soldiers to calm and relax them before going into battle.
The beginnings of the production of gin have its roots in the middle ages, with its ancestor Genever dating back to the 13th century. Gin’s popularity spread over Great Britain (the region most commonly associated with the spirit) after King William III claimed the British throne in the 17th century.
In the early 18th century, gin spread all over Great Britain, which brought about the raising of taxes and duties on imported drinks. At the same time, laws on the managing and regulation of domestic gin production were relaxed, clearing the path for the emergence of many new distilleries. Subsequently, gin became highly accessible, cheap, and popular. This period, nicknamed the “Gin Craze”, was characterised by a high rate of alcoholism and spirit consumption, an increased mortality due to alcohol, and the dispute about the morality of producing and selling gin. The hectic period sparked controversy in the British Parliament, which consequently issued five acts on controlling the production and consumption of gin.