Gin is very much the en vogue drink at the moment. Mixed with ice and tonic and consumed in an engraved gin glass, it is a refreshing tipple at any time of year.
Gin has a long history, but did you know that for many years, it was demonised as being unsuitable for the masses?
First, let’s look at its early roots:
Gin’s core ingredient is juniper, which is mixed with alcohol. The first use of gin was recorded in 70 A.D when Pedanius Discorides, a physician who put together a five-volume encyclopaedia of herbal medicine, noted that juniper berries mixed with wine treated chest ailments. At that far-off time, this drink was not called gin.
In the 16th Century, a spirit known as “genever” was made in Holland by mixing malt wine with juniper, which was also said to have medicinal properties.
The first use of the word gin was in 1714 when Bernard Mandeville in his book “The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits”, noted that the British, when drunk on genever, found it difficult to pronounce its name, so abbreviated it to “gin”.
In the 17th century, William III abolished taxes on spirits. The cheap price of gin was blamed for poor people drinking it irresponsibly. While royalty and high society sipped gin quietly, they looked down on poorer people enjoying the drink as an emotional escape from the harshness of their lives. Not all gin served to poorer people was pure – turpentine, sulphuric acid and sawdust were added to many gins.
To combat the gin problem, the government introduced a gin licence of £50 for distillers. This was an enormous fee at the time, and only two social licences were issued. Most gins were distilled illegally.
In 1775, the drawings of William Hogarth depicted people intoxicated by gin going out of their minds. Gin’s reputation had changed from being known as a medicinal drink to the cause of social evil.
In 1830, a new still was introduced that produced purer cleaner gin. Schweppes created their India Tonic Water which was given to sailers who mixed it with gin. The quinine on the tonic water helped prevent malaria. Gin’s reputation was restored as non-sailers began to enjoy gin and tonic.
From the 19th Century until the present day, gin has remained a popular drink. In the last few years, there has been a resurgence in craft gins, often produced by small distillers. Many of these are flavoured with fruits and spices.
Why use an engraved gin glass?
Engraved gin glasses, carrying a personal message, make ideal personalised gifts. They celebrate special occasions, or express appreciation for someone who has achieved great things or helped you at difficult times.
Drinkers raise their engraved gin glasses in a toast to celebrate good times, or perhaps when they are finally released after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.