An ode to gin - celebrating 7 years
When we established Masons Gin seven years ago, we started to discover a wealth of history around Britain’s most popular spirit. Let us fill you in.
14th century – gin’s not so humble beginning
During the Black Death pandemic, juniper was deemed an antidote to the fetid fumes which were considered to be how the disease spread.
In reality, the Black Death was spread by fleas, and juniper is an incredibly effective flea repellent.
So juniper began its rich history as a medicinal aid, and, later acquiring a favoured taste for Europeans.
18th Century - Fast forward 4 hundred years to gin’s most famous moment
Bootleggers distilled any available receptacle - portable stills, bathtubs, barrels and buckets. Each distillation was kept small – making it possible to flee at a moment’s notice with equipment in tow.
This was dubbed the ‘Gin Craze.’; people drank in the streets, crime levels soared and babies were plied with gin to keep cries at bay.
The government soon recognised the detrimental threat to society and The Gin Act of 1751 put the final nail in the coffin of unlawful and dangerous distilling activities, halting small-batch distillations and giving the rights back to respectable distilleries who produced batches of 1,800 litres or more.
21st century – gin’s comeback
So what happened to cause the recent gin boom?
In 2000, gin was out of popularity as drinks like vodka and wine had really taken off. Walk into a pub and you would see the same big-name suspects – Gordons and Beefeater – each holding its rightful place and occasionally being brought down from the shelf for the traditionalist gin drinker’s G&T.
The Gin Act stood for almost 200 years until 2009, when, after more than 2 years’ campaigning alongside other distillers, Sipsmith were granted the right to distil at a quantity of just under 300 litres per batch.
This was very significant and generated a surge in small batch distillers popping up, first in London and then spreading nationwide.
Because of gin’s reputation as old-fashioned, the initial response was poor. It seemed that few people wanted to talk about or drink gin.
It took a few years for gin to gain momentum, and slowly bars and pubs were persuaded to stock ‘craft’ gins, and eventually, the media started picking up on this new wave of exciting products.
The original G&T was transformed by creatively-minded bartenders and millennials crafting up concoctions at home.
Goblets of alluringly presented G&Ts and gin cocktails continue to fill our magazines social feeds, and bar menus.
Today, the UK’s gin boom continues, with flavoured & premium quality gins are growing in popularity, and consumers interested in brands with a genuine provenance and a ‘real story to tell’.