Over the past couple of years, gin has made somewhat of a comeback in the popularity stakes and it’s reputation has come along way from it’s humble beginnings.
So, a bit about the ‘G’ from the ‘G & T’…….
Gin is widely recognised to have been first made in Holland during the early 17th century but it seems that Italy may have also been producing it prior to that, albeit with very little actual alcohol content. The Dutch produced a spirit called ‘genever’ which was essentially a malt wine base with juniper berries that helped to mask the harsh flavour. Just as it’s predecessors, it was used medicinally by chemists and pharmacists to treat stomach ailments and gout amongst other things. However by the 1700’s that all changed. The first ‘recorded’ use of the word gin was in 1714 in a publication by Bernard Mandeville (a Dutch-English physician, philosopher, and political economist) called ‘The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Public Benefits’. Mandeville wrote “Nothing is more destructive, either in regard to the Health or the Vigilance and Industry of the Poor than the infamous Liquor, the name of which, deriv’d from Juniper in Dutch, is now by frequent use and the Laconick Spirit of the Nation, from a Word of middling Length shrunk into a Monosyllable, Intoxicating Gin”.
Gin is a clear spirit and gets it’s predominant flavour from juniper berries. It’s distilled just like vodka, however gin is re-distilled with blends of various botanicals and ingredients to produce its distinct flavour. A typical fine gin can contain up to 10 botanicals.
1720 to 1751 saw England’s ‘Gin Craze’. The English Government allowed unlicensed gin production while heavily taxing all other spirits at the same time. As a result, thousands of gin stores opened up and because gin was so cheap, it became the popular drink of the poor. The infamous signage above gin cellars read “Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two pennies, clean straw for nothing”! The Government found that the average Londoner consumed an average of 14 gallons of spirit EACH YEAR!
So now you know a little bit about gin and it’s origins, where can you go to sample some of the finest? Well we have a few options for you which we think are well worth a visit and these experiences make ideal gifts for the gin lovers in your life.
Started by gin connoisseur Martin Agius in 2011, a small but considered gin shelf, consisting of ten bottles existed within The Cotswold Plough Hotel. This has now grown considerably and evolved into The Gin Pantry as is known today. Consisting of a dedicated room, filled with bottles of gin from around the world. Guests are invited to open & smell the various bottles to aid their choice and there are knowledgeable staff on stand by to help if needed. This is a rather special place to visit in the Cotswolds and a must for any gin enthusiast.
Combining the best of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, The Feathers is situated in the heart of the historic market town of Woodstock. The Feathers’ Bar features a fantastic variety of over 400 gins from around the world. In fact, they were the first into the Guinness Book of World Records™ for offering the greatest selection of gins on the planet.
The bar staff at The Feathers are on hand to talk you through the vast choice of gins on offer and help you make a selection. We’re told that the bar is a popular backdrop for ‘selfies’ too!
Click here to visit The Feathers Hotel…
Five AA Red Star Bovey Castle is nestled in 275 acres of beautiful countryside within Devon’s Dartmoor National Park. Here you can learn not only how to make cider and sloe gin but learn about the history of making traditional drinks. Start with an introduction to sloe gin making and tasting. During the autumn fresh sloe berries are picked and used to make sloe gin. At other times, seasonal fruits can and are used.
This is such a beautiful setting, we can’t recommend it highly enough.
An award-winning luxury hotel and spa in the heart of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire with an extensive range of gins.
Perfect for any Gin lover, the Deluxe Gin Tasting Experience lets you try 4 full Gin and Tonics along with carefully selected matching garnishes to enhance the flavour. Served with a Charcuterie sharing board for 2.
Their barman will talk you through the Gins, their background and flavours, one of which will be a local Cotswold Gin.
They describe themselves as ‘Pioneering the standard for Chelmsford gin lovers offering a collection of over 185 gins from small batch and local distillers to leading global brands.’
Regular gin tasting evenings are the perfect way to enjoy new flavours in a relaxed and comfortable setting.
Their unique Hayman’s Gin and Classic Cocktail Tasting Experience includes a signature Hayman’s G&T upon arrival, followed by a tutored tasting of premium Hayman’s gin selection. Explore gin in-depth with a detailed walk-through of the production process of gin, a memorable telling of its origins and how gin developed through the ages.
Live in or visiting Yorkshire? This is the the one for you then. Not only do they have the annual (and extremely popular) ‘Malton Gin Festival’, you can now also book onto a fabulous ‘Gin O’Clock Tour’ which is definitely a gin lover and foodie’s dream!
As well as experiencing the town’s passion for incredible artisan food and drink, you will sample no less than 6 different gins. You will also tour Malton’s brand new Gin Distillery! Along with your friendly guide you’ll visit a varying selection of ‘Made in Malton’ producers and specialist shops, sampling a range of seasonal delights.
With so many gins and flavours, it’s hard to pick a favourite but we’d still love to know what yours is! Let us know in the comments.
For all the latest Gin Experiences, check out our Gin Section here…
Chin-chin and bottoms up!