While gin is strongly associated with England, where it’s the national spirit, it is said to have been invented in Holland and used for medicinal purposes. The Dutch variant, known as jenever, was initially made by mixing juniper berries with alcohol.
British gin production was boosted by a law by King William of Orange, which ended taxation and licensing on local distillers and increased tariffs on imported spirits. Naturally, these new initiatives led to a boom in gin manufacturing.
As the consumption of gin increased in Britain, the spirit was blamed for a variety of social ills. The government hence enacted several Gin Acts, which called for higher taxation of gin retailers and restricted distillers to selling their wares to licensed gin shops.
To avoid getting malaria in the tropics, British soldiers are said to have blended bitter quinine (which countered the disease) with gin, lime, sugar and ice (which made it easier to stomach). And so the gin and tonic was born.
During the Prohibition era in the United States, many people had to resort to making homemade gin – known as “bathtub gin” – by blending grain alcohol with other ingredients. The blend would then be topped off with water from a bathtub tap.
Distillers around the globe continue to put a creative spin on the spirit. South Africa’s Flowstone adds bushwillow and marula while Japan-based Roku, produced by Suntory, incorporates cherry blossom, yuzu and sansho pepper.
SEE ALSO: 11 great gin bars around the world
This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine