Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries. From its earliest origins in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved from use in herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Gin was developed on the basis of the older jenever, and became popular in Great Britain (particularly in London) when William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Republic, occupied the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones with his wife Mary.
1. In Holland, genever was sold in pharmacies in the late 1600s. If you went to a drinking establishment, one of the top-selling beverages was wormwood wine, vermouth.
2. Gin is English, not Dutch. Genever, a malted spirit that is essentially light whisky with juniper, is the juniper distillate of the Netherlands. Gin was developed in London and is a unique and much purer spirit.
3. Gin was born around 1689. The earliest known food pairing occurred in 1731: gingerbread. This became quite common and is still traditional in parts of England.
4. Nearly all juniper used in gin is picked wild. Almost none is cultivated.
5. The best possible way to taste gins for comparison is at room temperature, diluted with an equal measure of water. This reveals both qualities and flaws.
6. Gin’s primary flavour is the sweet pine and soft citrus of the juniper berry. All other botanicals are added to highlight nuances of this complex and sophisticated flavour.
7. During the plague years, doctors wore masks filled with juniper berries as they thought the plague was spread by bad odours. People began eating juniper, drinking wine infused with juniper, bathing in juniper and covering themselves with juniper oil.
8. Juniper oil is also an effective natural flea repellent.
9. In 1721, Britain consumed 3.5 million gallons of gin.
10. London Dry Gin doesn’t need to be made in London. Instead, it is a broad style guideline rather than a legal indicator.
11. The ‘bathtub gin’ that was made in the United States during Prohibition had dangerous and even lethal natural effects due to the fact that it sometimes contained methanol. Sufferers were blinded or even poisoned.
12. Though James Bond’s famous ‘shaken, not stirred’ line is probably the most remembered Martini quote in the world, the majority of bartenders disagree, and would recommend a stirred Martini instead, as shaking prompts too much dilution.
13. The country with the world’s highest per-capita gin consumption is the Philippines, with an estimated 25 million cases consumed annually.
14. While British sailors received a daily rum ration, British naval officers got a daily ration of gin.
15. The first cocktail listed in the first British book to contain cocktail recipes, William Terrington’s Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, was a gin cocktail with ginger syrup, orange curaçao and bitters.