- This article concerns the beverage. For other uses see Gin (disambiguation).
Gin is a spirit, or strong alcoholic beverage. It is made from the distillation of white grain spirit and juniper berries (or sloe berries, in the case of sloe gin), which provide its distinctive flavour. The taste of ordinary gin is very dry (unlike sloe gin), and as such it is rarely drunk neat.
Gin originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century - its invention is often credited to the physician Franciscus Sylvius . From there it spread to England after the Glorious Revolution put a Dutchman on the English throne. Dutch gin, known as jenever, is a distinctly different drink from English-style gin; it is distilled with barley and sometimes aged in wood, giving it a slight resemblance to whisky. Hasselt, in Belgium, is famous for its jenever.
Gin became very popular in England after the government created a market for poor quality grain that was unfit to be used in brewing beer by allowing unlicensed gin production and at the same time imposing a heavy duty on all imported spirits. Thousands of gin-shops sprang up all over England. By 1740 the production of gin had increased to six times that of beer and because of its cheapness it became extremely popular with the poor. Of the 15,000 drinking establishments in London over half were gin-shops. Beer maintained a healthy reputation as it was often safer to drink the brewed ale than unclean plain water, but gin was blamed for various social and medical problems, and may have been a factor in the high death rate that caused London's previously increasing population to remain stable. The reputation of the two drinks was illustrated by William Hogarth in his engravings Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751). This negative reputation survives today in the english language; terms such as "gin-joints" to describe disreputable bars or calling drunks "gin-soaked". The 1736 Gin Act imposed high taxes on retailers but led to riots in the streets. The prohibitive duty was gradually reduced and finally abolished in 1742. The 1751 Gin Act however was more successful. It forced distillers to sell only to licensed retailers and brought gin-shops under the jurisdiction of local magistrates.
In the 19th century, gin became a more respectable drink, and was often drunk mixed with quinine-based tonic water in malarial areas of the British Empire. Many other gin-based mixed drinks were invented, including the martini. Gin, in the form of secretly-produced "bathtub gin", was a common drink in the speakeasies of Prohibition-era America. It remained popular as the basis of many cocktails after the repeal of Prohibition.
Common mixers for gin
Famous gin brands
Other gin brands and variations
- Anchor Junipero Gin - produced in California by Anchor Steam Brewery
- Bafferts Gin - Triple-distilled with four botanicals in England
- Bellringer Gin - 94.4 proof English gin.
- Bols Gin
- Bombadier Military Gin
- Boodles British Gin - 90.4 proof gin
- Boomsma Jonge Genevere Gin
- Burnett's Crown Select Gin
- Cadenhead's Old Raj Gin - 110 proof gin containing a small amount of saffron, which imparts a slight yellowish/greenish tint
- Citadelle - distilled with nineteen botanicals in France
- Cork Dry
- Cascade Mountain Gin - uses hand-picked wild juniper berries, distilled in Oregon
- Demrak Amsterdam - distilled five times with seventeen botanicals
- Dirty Olives
- Gilbey's London Dry Gin
- Greenall's Original Gin
- Hamptons Gin
- Hendrick's Gin - infused with cucumber, coriander, citrus peel and rose petals
- Juniper Green Organic Gin - first gin made from all organic ingredients in England with four botanicals
- Leyden Dry Gin - Distilled three times in small batches, twice in column stills then in a pot still
- Old Raj Gin - See "Cadenhead's Old Raj Gin"
- Schlichte GinUrbrannt
- Seagram's Extra Dry Gin
- South Gin - triple distilled in New Zealand using nine botanicals, two of which are native: manuka berries and kawa kawa leaves, believed by the indigenous Maori people to offer medicinal properties
- Tanqueray Malacca - triple distilled in small batches
- Tanqueray No. 10 - distilled with fresh botanicals, not dried
Van Gogh Gin - Dutch gin produced with ten botanicals in small batches. Triple distilled, twice in column stills then in a traditional pot still
Drinks with gin as the main base
Last updated: 10-20-2005 04:37:39