When it’s comes to one of this nations favourite triples it has a rather colourful past. Yes, the history of gin in the U.K. certainly makes for interesting reading, best served with a G&T of course!
Gin itself dates back to the Middle Ages when it was used for medicinal purposes and although it has evolved somewhat, I’m sure many would say they still use it for medicinal purposes today! Nothing quite like a post work G&T as the perfect tonic for those autumn blues.
Gin first became popular in the U.K. and specifically London during the occupation of William of Orange in the late 1600’s. The King dropped taxation and allowed unlicensed gin production, whilst introducing a heavy duty on all imported spirits leading to thousands of gin shops opening up in the city in the late 1600’s early 1700’s.
This period was knows as the Gin Craze, when the relatively cheap drink became popular with the poor and during which period, over half of London’s drinking establishments were Gin Shops.
Although Gin was traditionally a juniper based drink, during this period it was often flavoured with turpentine for its woody notes. And some residential stills would also use Sulphuric Acid to create a sweeter drink.
In 1736 the Gin Act was introduced to curb the popularity of the drink. But the introduction of a hefty licensing cost simply pushed the business underground.
Then in 1751 a second Gin Act was passed which curbed production with to the introduction of taxes and also forced distillers to sell through licensed establishments. This combined with the positive marketing of beer as the healthy alternative saw the Gin Craze finally begin to fade.
The 1830’s saw the introduction of Gin Palaces, popular with the poor and by the 1850’s there were over 5000 of these in London.
The 19th century saw the development of Old Tom Gin, popular in London, which was a sweeter version of the drink but by the early 20th century its popularity wavered.
The 19th century also saw the creation of London Dry Gin, created through the development of the common still.
And then in 1890, the Gin & Tonic was born. Developed to make a local Indian cure for Malaria more palatable, sugar, lime, gin and ice were combined with chinchona, or ‘fever tree’ bark and there it was, the drink we now know as a classic G & T.
In more resent years the gin scene has seen quite a resurgence and lead to the introduction of World Gin Day in 2009 which is celebrated on the second Saturday in June.
This resurgence has also seen many new distilleries’ appearing here in the UK and the list of favourites in long! But one of my favourites has to be London’s, very own, Sipsmith’s. Founded in 2009, it was London’s first traditional copper distillery since 1820. Brining London Dry Gin back to the city where it was first named and in a truly crafted form.
And it certainly delivers! Sipsmith’s London Dry Gin with its beautifully citrusy notes, makes the perfect G & T, served as its best with a slice or two of fresh lime. But be warned, when gin tastes this good, one is never enough! And if your partial to a cocktail or two, then take a look at their website for a little ginspiration. You’ll be a mixoligist in no time!
And with sloe berries currently in abundance, why not treat yourself to a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin with its soft cherry notes making it there perfect autumnal warmer. It also makes a perfect addition to their London Dry Gin as you build your cocktail repertoire.
Or if you’re looking the full Sipsmith’s experience, then why not book yourself or a loved one on one of their Distillery Tours and see how this beautifully crafted gin is made. It really is the perfect gift for any Gin lover and a great way to experience this brilliantly crafted British Product.
So go on, make some room in that drinks cabinet and treat yourself to a bottle or two of Sipsmith Gin. You know you deserve it!