Gin has been enjoying something of a revival over the past few years. Pop into any city centre bar and there’s no denying that it’s become a trendy drink enjoyed in style and luxury. But this hasn’t always been the case. Gin has a somewhat colourful origin. Over the decades it transformed from a bedraggled drink when it first came into existence, to a glistening and punctilious drink enjoyed by the mahatmas of the society. Here is a glimpse into the brief origins of gin.
1689 – King William Of Orange
After ascending the throne, William of Orange’s first act as King was to reduce the licensing and taxes on British distillation. This was followed by an increase in the taxes on imported spirits, which consequently led to a boost in the British distilling industry.
1731 – The London Frost Fairs
Gin and gingerbread became a lifesaver for Londoners trying to cope with the Frost Fairs on the frozen River Thames. Many hot gin and gingerbread stalls and tents owned by enterprising Londoners became a gathering spot for locals each time the weather became unbearable.
1736 – The Fifty Pound Act
By the mid 1730’s gin consumption had risen considerably with the average weekly intake of residents in the capital hitting 2 pints. In an attempt to cut down on people’s dependence on gin, the government imposed a licensing act on all London distilleries. Each distiller was to obtain a license of £50, which at the time was a huge sum. This had an immediate impact and many distilleries went out of business within weeks.
1751 – The Gin Act
Back in the 1750’s it was a battle for supremacy between beer and gin. Beer came out on top. Breweries behind the Hogarth’s famous etching of Gin Lane decided to wage war on the distilleries by demonstrating that beer is better for society than gin. Following their success, the Gin Act was passed in 1751 prohibiting distillers from selling to unlicensed merchants. They restricted retail licenses to substantial property owners and charged high fees to merchants who were eligible for retail licenses.
1850 – Gin and Tonic Era
After India had become a colony of Britain, malaria became predominant amongst the immigrants. The quinine, which comes from the tree back of the cinchona tree, was used as a local cure for malaria. The only problem being that quinine is notorious for its bitter taste. Thus gin and other sweeteners were added to make the combination palatable. This was the birth of G&T.
1860 – 1953 – The Gin Revolution
In 1860, gin was used as a payment option by the British Navy to pay some officers. A minimum of 57.7% ABV was decreed as the accepted alcohol ration on board. Then, in 1888, a new era of gin began where for the first time gin was seen as a social drink consumed for pleasure. It came in the form of a classic gin cocktail, referred to as the ‘the Elixir of Quietude’. In 1920, it was the prohibition era for gin which saw unemployed bartenders and thirsty Americans descend on London. Jump forward to 1953 and the now famous 007 ‘Vesper Cocktail’ by Ian Fleming stole the show.
1990 – The Cocktail is reborn
Inspired by David Embury’s “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” Dick Bradsell began training a wave of young bartenders. It led to a revival of the nightlife cocktail into a sophisticated and elegant art. Many more distillers continue to modify gin with their unique tastes and style.
2016 – Nelson’s Gin No7 joins the action
Nelson’s Gin takes gin distillery to the borders of Derbyshire and Staffordshire. It is the first distillery to be located in between Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Created by Neil Harrison, Nelson’s Gin is an exceptional spirit created by a man with the perfect vision and palate.
As a chef, Neil Harrison uses just the right blend of flavours, tastes and presentation to produce the Nelson’s Gin. Produced in an ultramodern distillery in a self-contained area, it is no surprise the Nelson’s gin is one of a kind. The story has just begun. The start of a new gin era…