gin 1

From its beginnings in the Middle Ages, gin has developed from a primitive herbal medicine to a spirit enjoyed the world over. Gin as we know it now had its origins in the older Dutch ‘jenever’ made popular after William of Orange and his wife Mary came to the throne of both England and Scotland. The word gin derives from ‘jenever’ (Dutch) and ‘genièvre (French) and simply means ‘juniper’. Early English soldiers got a taste for it, hence the term ‘Dutch courage’.

Sounds simple enough so far, but different methods of distillation and the addition of unlimited types of botanicals has, over the years, given us gins of such a wealth of variety it’s mind-blowing!

The period known to the artist Hogarth, during the Gin Craze, when almost every street in the country had its own gin-shop (we’ve all seen Hogarths engraving of Gin Lane, haven’t we?) has long gone. As has the time in the 19th century when gin was used in the British colonies to disguise the bitter taste of quinine (the origin of our modern day gin and tonic). Long gone too is the ‘Bath-tub’ gin favoured in Prohibition era America (having said that, we do stock gin by that name!)

Gin palaces were the 18th century name for lavish premises lit by gaslight where gin was consumed in large quantities (22 million gallons a year, by all accounts). You won’t be able to knock back gin here at King Street by gas light whilst dressed in your tall hats and long frocks, but we do boast a range of over 220 varieties of gin on sale from all over the world. We also have, in the family, a number of gin experts here to advise you as to which flavours and styles you might like most. We have all the big names, of course, but we have spent much time searching out some fabulous small scale distilleries, there are crowds of young guns out there experimenting to their hearts content in the world of gin production.

Gin now can contain flavours as disparate as: apples, lavender, ginger, thyme, cassia bark, orris root, cardamom, orange peel, hibiscus flowers – the list is endless. It’s not just the flavours which capture the imagination, check out the names: Bathtub, Broken Heart, Batshit Mental, Death’s Door, Eccentric, Elephant Gin, Glorious, Ophir, Pinkster, Sacred, Silent Pool, Uppercut and Zymurgorium (yes, really, ask the people of Manchester).

Gin may have evolved over the years, but mothers’ ruin is definitely back in fashion!