Gin is such a massive subject I knew I
was gonna need some help, so I’ve asked along my good pal Trish, who is an expert
on this wonderful spirit, to help me have a little chat about all things Gin.
Honestly there’s so much to talk about and so many amazing new products out
there we’ve decided to split this across a few different episodes. So today we’re
gonna focus on where Gin came from and how it evolved into the spirit that we
know today. If you’re interested in how the different styles of gin compare then
stay tuned for that episode coming up soon and we’ll also have one on the
different uses of gin so if you haven’t already, why don’t you subscribe
and even press the little bell so that you’ll get notified when those episodes
come out. So I knew Trish was the lady for this job when we were having a
training at my work and she was talking about gin and started with ‘So in the
1500’s (laughs). So what happened in the 1500s that started gin off? I actually said in her
training, obviously she wasn’t paying too much attention (laughs) it was 1550, BC! (laighs) Very very
long-winded story about gin, Cara. So why don’t we start with the miracle berry
itself, known as juniper berry, basically it’s not a berry at all it is a female
sea cone, part of the conifer family. This miracle berry is a female seed cone
which has a piney resinous sort of aroma to it. So this was used in ancient Egypt for jaundice. It was even used by the ancient
Greeks for performance-enhancing abilities. (laughs) It was also used by the Dutch
for stomach ailments, the Romans for chest ailments and if you can believe it
even the Black Death in the 1300s, which was one of the world’s worst pandemics
they were using juniper infused wines. So gin, juniper even in its raw state, was
used by all humans for thousands of years In its raw essence gin
essentially is a neutral spirit kind of like vodka with the infusion of juniper
berries and other botanicals. So it must contain juniper, it should be
discernible, isn’t in a lot of cases, and other botanicals. Botanicals are herbs, roots,
peels and anything that’s natural that grows on its own. It gives it flavor.
So how does the flavor from those botanicals get into that neutral spirit? Essentially get a big kettle we call that as still you put your botanicals
and juniper into the kettle you let it heat up and then all the vapors that
come out you trap them and you end up with a flavored distillate. So gin, if
it’s got juniper in it, and other botanicals come through, you condense it
and trap it and you’ve got gin. If you didn’t have the juniper in there it would be a flavored vodka. It really started to take shape and take form in the sixteen hundreds. The
Dutch started really invigorating this style, where Jevever or Genievre, and
excuse me all the Dutch people out there listening, a very crude way of saying
it. They used this juniper infused crude spirit which almost is like a hybrid
between a gin and whiskey and flavor. It’s a very malty based spirit, they
use grains of agricultural origin, infused with juniper and still today it’s
their national spirit. It is an Appalachian gin as well so if you think
of sparkling wine versus champagne, champagne must be made in that region.
It’s the same with Jenever. Yeah right? So Jenever has to be made in- -The Netherlands,
Belgium and a couple of other places, they’re pretty small, but mainly still the
national drink of Holland. Gin was brought to the rest of the world by King
William of Orange, the third King of England. He took his national spirit,
Jenever, over to England and because a lot of the people there couldn’t pronounce
Jenever. Neither can we to be fair! Absolutely. So they shortened it to Gin. He didn’t so much like the French and he decided because of the surplus of grains in the UK, that
every woman man child and their dog, were able to produce Gin.
Which is great because they wanted to obviously ban brandy production. This
actually led to what was known as the Gin craze which is a little bit of a
dark time in England. So after Jenever you’ve got old Tom gin. With old Tom and
quite a lot of spirits you will see a cat on the bottle, old tom, old Tomcat. There
are lots of stories in this era, mainly around the seventeen hundreds, when they
realized that letting everyone make gin wasn’t a really good thing. They started
to try to impose taxes to stop this from happening as it was really ruining
society. This term was called- That’s the whole Mother’s ruin. Mother’s ruin, exactly,
mothers ruin being you know them neglecting their children.
So once they started imposing taxes and laws, one of the stories that came out of
this was the old Tom gin. So because you’re making gins you’d
flavor them with things that made it taste less crude. Because you’re like
literally making it in your bathtub or out your back door, whatever and so it’s just
gonna taste like gross- Yeah, methylated spirits, infusions, anything to kind of
sell it to people because that was your main source of income. It was said that
an old Tomcat fell into a vat of gin. Oh, I never heard that before. Are you a cat person? I’m more of a dog person myself, so it doesn’t bother me too much. There’s another story
when I you know they started imposing taxes and levies on wars to try to
eradicate this behavior, that a gentleman named captain Dudley Bradstreet, he was
an informant actually, so he was trying to eradicate the competition because he
didn’t want to pay the 50-pound levy, which I believe is about 8,000 pound
today, so pretty substantial at the time. ‘We’re not gonna pay that’ so what he did was, he made what was called as a puss and mew. So he put a copper cat in the laneway on a
door, kind of like a speakeasy style, you would go up and you say ‘puss’ and if he
was there he’d say ‘mew’ and you put your money in and out of the cat’s paw out of
a lead pipe you get your ration of gin. And so that’s my favorite story about
old Tom, basically they were flavored with lots
of botanicals to kind of quell that flavor of methylated spirits.
The term blind drunk comes from the style of gin because you’re quite
literally going blind, from drinking so much. Does it have sugar in it is it
like it’s a bit of a sweeter style hey? So yeah, but at the time
sugar was actually an expensive commodity okay so what they were doing
was they were adding licorice root and other sweet style botanicals to give you
this fake sense perception of it being sweeter. Yeah okay. So that is synonymous
with an Old Tom style, there are no global regulations on how to make an Old
Tom so there will always be different types. And then from there the, the London
Dry kind of evolved out of that? Absolutely so there are about five gin levies that
were major, that were imposed. To try to stop London falling apart and at the
seams quite literally they came up with the London Dry Gin once continuous
distillation was invented in the 1830s and so some brands you might be familiar
with Tanqueray. So charles Tanqueray and
another one might be Gordon’s, Alexander Gordon very wealthy families that could
afford to pay the gin levy you could afford to procure stills that could make
continuous distillation possible and a very premium a spirit. So if it’s got
London Dry on the bottle it pays homage to it being of superior quality. It
doesn’t have to be made in London it just has to use all fresh botanicals
distilled together. A minimum of thirty seven point five percent alcohol by
volume and a very premium base spirit. So that is a London Dry and that’s when
it started to turn for the better. So at that point that’s you know they’re not
needing to mask the actual base spirit because that’s actually good quality, so
for instance like Tanqueray only has four botanicals in it right and you know
so they’re not doing the same thing where they do what they do with Old Tom,
so they were just like cram as much stuff in as possible so that you can
actually taste anything. And then that that was kind of the style of gin that I
guess got us through more of the 20th century really. Most of my last eight or
nine years (laughs) I love London dry. I know we’re kind of in a bit of a new
era, how do you feel about that? This is a little bit controversial, I don’t know
if you want to if you want to explain because Gin doesn’t actually have a very
solid definition so people are kind of definitely taking it like sort of
interpreting it to quite long lengths at this point. Really, the only thing that’s
legislated about Gin is that it has to juniper as a primary flavour So you’re
absolutely right so you’ve got like these gins that use new worlds
botanicals new world ingredients i guess some of those came about because the Gin
category kind of evaporated for vodka prohabitin, this is in the 1920s
for about 13 years and so didn’t became kind of crude again so by 1933 gin was
almost completely extinguished due to the fact that you couldn’t get anything
of high quality it was back to those bathtub gin, those crude old Tom styles, you
know that made your hair stand on edge. So, like obviously that’s
happening in America but in the UK they were still making, like it’s never really
died out in the UK as much, has it? Not so much. But it just kind of went a
little bit out of fashion because I guess where America goes the rest of the
world follows, or at least at that point. Absolutely nowadays Gin
produces did this wonderful thing notably one of them is Hendricks, they took
a lighter style of gin infused with cucumber and rose to bring people back to
the category, like you don’t have to be afraid anymore, it’s not something for
your grandmother to drink alone. It’s not gonna be that really piney resinous yeah, off putting. Yeah turpentine and all these other things that scared people away it’s
coming back with really loud other flavors because Gin is so diversified
as a category like there really isn’t a wrong now which I think I’m really
enjoying yeah cuz you can use really interesting botanicals and I think
Australia is a really good example of the gin category booming, This one
literally has ants in it, I don’t know
you can get a close-up later, which is obviously something that Indigenous
Australians have been eating for a really long time and has like a really
kind of lime and coriander flavour going on in there, but that’s
kind of an example of the fun stuff that people are doing now. Also because you
know there’s so many gins on the market that I guess you need to differentiate
yourself and in some way and be like you know the one that people remember
because there’s ants in the bottle which is just clever. Whatever it takes really. Yeah it’s
gone from being I guess quite a simple sort of- Simple and stifled as well Yeah (laughs). Being this rainbow of whatever you want it’s like putting your
dreams into a bottle at the end of the day and using things that are around you
which is super special and super unique and I love the diversity and seeing
where it’s going it’s amazing. So that was a pretty awesome insight into the
history of gin I certainly learned some stuff that I didn’t know before and I
think it’s good to get an understanding of how we’ve arrived at having the
amazing range of products that we know have available to us. As I said at the
beginning we’ve got some more gin talk coming up soon so make sure you
subscribe so you don’t miss it we’ve also got some more great gin talk
in our Negroni and London Calling episodes so be sure to check those out. So now you know.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Heavily relied upon by the Dutch East India company that also had the monopoly on quinine for a long time, delaying the establishment of the East India company in England (Britain started in 1707) because without a daily dose of the G & T (quinine), European colonials died in the tropics like flies (of malaria) as did many of the locals.

  2. Yet again an imformative and delightfull insight….
    Ahhh GIN, can be an amazing thing to drink ! Best G&T I ever had was made with a wedge of lemon and a wedge of lime – Four Pillars Navy strength gin and some majic tonic (the brand I've never seen since!) It was a hot day and darn it was good! Beat all other G&T's Ive ever had hands down… Looking forward to more of your adventures!

    Thanks
    Steve

  3. Gin is really blowing up. I'm not sure insects in the bottle is the next big thing or not, but it might work to keep flies out of the cocktail?

  4. havent even started watching this yet but keen as a bean! need as much knowledge as I can heading into an Aussie summer

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