Luxebook June 2023

English version of Genever. Given its medicinal properties, gin was popular among British soldiers and colonials living in malaria-prone areas; it was used to mask the unpleasant, bitter flavour of the antimalarial alkaloid “quinine”. This medical elixir give birth to the beloved Gin & Tonic that we know and love today. While gin was a favourable drink, it wasn’t until the late 1600s that the drink truly took hold in London. William of Orange ascended the throne in 1689 during the Glorious Revolution. At that time England was a staunch enemy of France and so he imposed severe taxes on imported spirits such as French wine, Brandy and Cognac in order to stimulate the British economy and promote the production of local spirits like gin. By the 18th century, there were as many as one thousand gin shops all across England, which led to what is now called the “Gin Craze”. The Gin Craze Thanks to the laws sets by William of Orange, a pint of gin became cheaper than beer. Gin had become a cheap buzz for poor Londoners who could purchase the spirit for a few pennies. With time, some employees were beginning to get paid with gin instead of money. As the gin craze went on, there was very little oversight. Manufacturers began to take advantage of the situation and started using low-quality grain along with additional bulking agents like turpentine and sulphuric acid which as suspected had a disastrous effect. The raw spirit now became the source of suffering across London with the city flooding with people who had become inebriated or insane with the spirit. Parliament eventually recognised the problem on hand and attempted to dampen the city’s appetite for gin by introducing new regulations. During the reign of George II, the 1736 Gin Act was passed which required a licence to produce gin. Gin manufacturers were also charged with exorbitant fees and taxes. However, only two licences that were formally obtained and gin production was driven underground with bootleggers producing gin in their own homes giving rise to the term ‘bathtub gin’. Gin Act of 1751 The Gin Act of 1736 was set to doom from the very beginning. The raised licence fees and heavy taxes led to bootlegging and illicit distilling none of which helped curb the Gin Craze. However, the Gin Act of 1751 proved to be much more effective than the former with an effective curb on the Gin Craze. Unlike the former, the Gin Act of 1751 encouraged the “respectable” sale of gin with a lowered license fee and minimal taxes. This Act saw a decline in the number of gin stores in London as distillers were urged to sell to licenced retailers trading the spirit from respectable places. The Act further prohibited stills with a capacity of less than 1,800 litres, which put a halt to the city’s small-scale gin businesses. Until the 18th century, gin was made in classic alembic pot stills and was slightly sweeter than the London dry gin we know today. However, in the beginning of the 19th century, the column still was discovered which allowed for a continuous distillation process. This was a quick and inexpensive way to obtain ‘clean’ base alcohol for gin leading to the emergence of the ‘London dry’ style later in the 19th century. The term ‘dry’ was used to indicate unsweetened gin. Genever vs Gin Gin can be distilled from any raw material –from the malted barley to grapes. Genever is always made from grains like rye, malted barley and corn. Gin can be made anywhere. Genever can only be produced in Holland, Belgium, and designated parts of France and Germany. Gin is never aged. Genever can be aged (oude) or unaged (jonge). Juniper must be the central flavouring agent in gin. Genever is flavored with juniper while it need not be its main flavouring agent. According to U.S. Law, gin must be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. Oude genever must contain a minimum of 15 percent malt wine while Jonge genever cannot exceed a maximum of 15 percent malt wine. 10|LUXEBOOK|JUNE 2023