Humanosity says..if you are enjoying the newfound popularity of gin then this article is for you. It traces the history of gin from a ‘cure-all’ sold in Flemish pharmacies to the boutique gins that grace trendy bars across the world.
Even as alcohol consumption took a worldwide dip from 2017 to 2018, gin’s global consumption grew 8.3%, according to a 2019 report from International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR). Traditional gin is estimated to increase by five per cent in the next four years, and industry experts say flavoured gin will see a jump of around three per cent.
A stirred and sordid history
Historically gin did not taste like the drink we know now. In fact, it wasn’t even sold in bars. it was sold by Flemish and Dutch pharmacies as a cure to everything.
The gin-as-spirit craze didn’t really kick off until William III became King of England in 1689. He banned brandy, the drink of choice, and began offering tax benefits to British citizens who distilled their own spirits.
The result was a disaster as people mixed in turpentine, sulphuric acid and all sorts of horrors into the homebrews. As a result, gin developed a bad reputation and was accused of being responsible for insanity, mani and death.
The key to gin becoming the popular tipple it is now is down to Irish inventor Aeneas Coffey. He changed history in 1830 with his patented still. It had two columns: one where the wash that would become gin was piped and warmed in copper wash-heaters, and a second where distilling took place. Suddenly, producing a clear, safe gin was not only possible but popular.