The History And Creation Of Gin
If there’s one thing human beings have been doing since the dawn of time, it’s getting intoxicated. There are hundreds of different things that let them get intoxicated. There is all manner of plants, plant mixtures, and in modern times, there are even a large number of man-made chemicals that are sold specifically for the purpose of intoxication.
But one of the most ancient and traditional ways of getting intoxicated is fermented plant matter. The exact nature of the plant is based on the area of the world. The Mediterranean region, as an example, tended to create a large number of wines since they had a large number of grapes. They simply took what was plentiful, figured out how to control the fermentation, and made a drink out of it. Russia, by contrast, is well known for vodka. This is because they had potatoes, and so that’s what they used in order to create their alcohol.
One of the most popular alcohols is gin. It’s been around since the Middle Ages and has been considered everything from a fun drink to an herbal medicine. But there’s so much more to Gin than many people could ever imagine!
The Difference Between Alcohols
If you’re not a big drinker, then you may not be familiar with the different types of alcoholic drinks. You may hear words tossed around like spirits, hard liquor, beer, ale, and wine, but it’s not necessarily easy to understand the differences between them all. Especially since there are a number of people who don’t know enough about the different alcoholic drinks to use the correct term for the correct type of drink.
Beers is the generic term for any drink that’s a fermented malt beverage. It’s further divided into ales and lagers, which have their own differences. Beer is not considered a hard liquor.
Wine is one of two different things. In Europe, the term wine specifically refers to a drink made out of fermented grapes. However, in the United States, wine refers to any kind of fermented drink made of fruit juice, as long as it has an alcohol content of 7% to 24%. However, most non-grape based wines tend to specify by referring to themselves as “honey wine” or “apple wine”, or whatever type of fruit they’re made from. Wine is also not considered hard liquor.
Liqueurs are distilled spirits that have sweeteners added to them. They tend to be a bit thicker, used for the purpose of sweetening and adding a bit of kick to drinks such as tea or coffee, or as part of a mixed drink. They are a distilled spirit, which means they often have as much alcohol content as a hard liquor. However, due to their sweetness, many people don’t consider them hard liquors.
Liquor, hard liquor, hard alcohol, or spirits (which are all the same thing) are distilled alcoholic drinks. The distillation process pulls all impurities and non-alcoholic substances out of the drink, leaving a higher alcohol content. It’s in this group that gin is included. They tend to be called hard liquor both due to their higher alcohol content, as well as their taste. Hard liquors tend to have a rather potent taste, and while that taste is certainly based on the substance that was fermented in the first place, it’s also based on how well the distillation process was overseen.
The Creation Of Gin
Gin is a drink distilled from fermented juniper berries. As mentioned previously, it’s been around since the middle ages. Due to its age, there is a huge variety of different flavors of gin. The one thing they have in common is that they’re all based on fermented juniper berries.
The basic, and oldest, style of gin is referred to simply as “Juniper-flavored spirit”. It’s nothing more than fermented grain mash, and then distilling it via a variety of different botanicals. In order to be classified as gin, it must be bottled at 30% alcohol by volume.
Gin (that is, hard liquor bottled under the name “gin” without any modifiers) is made in a style similar to juniper-flavored spirits. However, it’s not distilled via botanicals. Instead, it’s distilled by adding in natural flavors. In order to be classified as gin, the primary flavor must be juniper berry.
Distilled gin is made by redistilling agricultural ethanol. The ethanol must have an alcohol by volume content of 96%, along with juniper berries and other flavorings. However, it must have juniper berries as the predominant flavoring. If the gin is made by adding flavorings to agricultural ethanol, it’s not considered distilled gin. It’s simply considered gin.
London gin is the most alcoholic of the different styles of gin, as well as the most potent and dry in flavor. This is because it must be produced from agricultural ethanol of 100% alcohol by volume (that is, pure alcohol), and then re-distilled in traditional stills of ethanol. The result is required to have at least 70% alcohol by volume, and can not include any kinds of coloring. In addition, it can contain very little sweetening elements, no more than 0.1 grams per liter.
And of course, there are three standard varieties of distillation. There’s Pot distillation, which is the oldest and most traditional. There’s column distillation, and then there’s compound gin. Compound gin is not technically a form of distillation but instead involves using flavorings in order to produce the gin. It’s not as highly regarded as other forms of gin, because of its impurities.
History Of Gin
The history of gin is often mistakenly credited with a physician from Holland named Fraciscus Sylvius. This is an old legend, though, as the existence of proto-gins are attested to in a play titled “The Duke of Milan”, written in 1623 when Sylvius was only nine years old. Needless to say, this makes the legend somewhat unlikely. While proto-gins had existed for some centuries (called genever in Middle Ages encyclopedias), the earliest recipe for the drink called genever dates back to the 16th century, in a book titled “Een Constelijck Distileerboec” which was published in Antwerp.
When the mid 17th century rolled around, there was a wide number of Flemish and Dutch distillers who were actively re-distilling malt spirit with the various herbs and spices that make up a good bottle of gin. These substances were mostly sold in the pharmacies of the era, allegedly treating a wide range of medical ailments ranging from kidney problems to gout, gallstones and stomach problems of all kinds. The drink emerged in England around the early 17th century and during the period of English history know as the Restoration, the drink enjoyed a resurgence. With the Glorious Revolution led by William of Orange took the English throne, gin was one of the most popular spirits on the island, though many shady distillers would flavor their gin with turpentine as a cheaper alternative to juniper.
When the English government allowed unlicensed production of gin while, at the exact same time, imposing a heavy tariff on all imported spirits. This created a wide market for low-quality grain that wasn’t fit for beer, whereby it was transformed into gin. Gin was incredibly cheap as a result of these market conditions and during this period, known as ìthe Gin Crazeî, gin incredibly popular across English to the point where half the alcoholic drinking establishments in London were gin shops. When the Gin Act of 1736 imposed massive taxes on retailers of the product, there were riots in the streets. The Acts was abolished in 1742, follow by the Gin Act of 1751. At this period of time, gin was produced under license, but without much regulation.
Gin was particularly important in the tropic British colonies as it was very useful for masking the horrible flavor of quinine, the only way to really treat malaria at the time. Because quinine was often dissolved in tonic water, combining it with gin lead to ìgin and tonicî. Elsewhere in the world, in the United States, gin remained quite popular, even after the enactment of Prohibition, leading to the creation of ìbathtub ginî (cheap, home produced gin made in secret) and speakeasies, also known as gin joints. To this day, ìgin jointî is the common term for shady drinking establishments.
Drinks And Enjoyment
As you can no doubt see, gin is a spirit with an incredibly rich history and distilling process. There are so many different kinds of gin and so many different kinds of drinks that people enjoy making gin with.
As mentioned, the classic “gin and tonic” is a much-beloved drink, made slightly different by almost everyone who makes them. There’s also the classic martini, which so many people will order “shaken, not stirred” in reference to James Bond. Those aren’t the only well-known gin drinks, but they are some of the most classic and traditional.
It will no doubt be interesting to see where this distilled spirit goes as time marches on. It’s certainly been some interesting places!