Gems on Gin

March 7th, 2016 | Posted in: Features

The term “Dutch courage” was born when English soldiers saw Dutch soldiers drinking jenever to boost morale during a 17th-century war. They then brought the idea back to the UK.

70% of the gin produced in the UK is produced in Scotland, including 3 of the world’s bestsellers: Hendrick’s, Tanqueray and Gordon’s.

Definition “a clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain (wheat or rye) or malt, and flavoured with juniper berries and botanicals.”

Edinburgh Gin
Edinburgh Gin Distillery is a family business run by husband and wife team Alex and Jane Nicol, founders of Spencerfield Spirit Company. Their children Hattie, Hannah and Fin also work for the company. Tours, tastings and events are held in the distillery under Rutland Hotel in Edinburgh. By day, the space is used as a distillery, and at 5pm Heads and Tails bar opens which serves a many Edinburgh Gin-led cocktails. The company are soon opening a distilling space in the Biscuit Factory, Leith. Students studying a masters degree in brewing and distillation at Heriot-Watt University spend time in the distillery learning about the processes.

The well known “shaken not stirred” line from James Bond is incorrect! Shaking makes the ice melt which dilutes the drink and causes the alcohol to be“bruised”. James Bond’s tagline was reversed from the original because it sounded better!

During prohibition W.C. Fields was asked why, if he didn’t have a drinking problem, did he buy 300 cases of gin before it started. He replied, “I didn’t think it would last that long.”

Tonic was originally created as an anti-malaria concoction in colonial India. But you would need to drink 67 litres of G&T a day to deliver a preventative dose of quinine!

There are 8 million gin drinkers in the UK, with an even split between male and female.

The world’s most expensive gin is Watenshi, which costs £2,000 for a 70cl. It translates as ‘Japanese Angel’ and is made by the world renowned Cambridge distillery.  One shot will set you back £71.

There are 30 gin producers and distillers based in Scotland.

Eden Mill
Eden Mill launched its gin in 2014 and the business is a partnership of two families. Co-founder Paul Miller previously worked as the programme director of the Scottish Government and Alcohol Industry Partnership and has been in the alcohol industry for 30 years. The Eden Mill distillery in St Andrews is the first distillery in Scotland which is also a brewery. It produces a hopped gin which blends juniper and Australian galaxy hops. Eden Mill is relaunching its open doors trade event where on-trade staff are invited to come and learn about the distilling process. The event is free.

Gin became increasingly popular in the 1920s in the USA thanks to the Prohibition. The reason for this was simple enough-it was easy to make at home! All one needed was some cheap grain alcohol, flavourings like juniper, and a nice, big bathtub for distilling. That’s how bathtub gin was born!

British exported gin goes to USA (44%), Spain (21%), Germany (9%).

The oldest gin distillery is Plymouth Gin in England, where distillers have been using a family recipe since 1793.

Gin doesn’t go off. If it’s stored correctly (in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight), it will keep indefinitely whether it’s been open or sealed. Once opened, the contents will start to evaporate and flavour may be lost over time, but it’ll still be safe to drink!

Makar Gin
Makar is the award winning premium handcrafted gin produced by The Glasgow Distillery Company.  Launched in 2014 by founders Liam Hughes, Mike Hayward & Ian McDougall, Makar is the first ever gin to be produced in the city of Glasgow. Distilled in small batches in a copper pot still – Annie, named after one of the founder’s great grandmother, Makar is a luxuriously smooth juniper forward gin entwined with seven other botanicals to a create the perfect balance. The name Makar comes from the Scots word for a poet or bard.

The gin market is worth £477m, up +16.9%.(2015) Mainstream gin accounts for £322m and premium gin accounts for £155m. London accounts for more than one third of all gin serves.

“The gin and tonic have saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the empire.” – Winston Churchill.

During the UK’s gin craze of  the late 1700s, gin joints were found on every corner and unlicensed production was legal. The debauchery caused by home-made gin prompted the nickname  ‘mother’s ruin.’

During the 14th century when the Bubonic plague was rife, and people consumed cordials  to protect them, it was common to wear a mask filled with juniper berries.

Old Raj
Old Raj gin is distinctive because it contains a measure of saffron, a rare and expensive spice derived from the crocus flower. It takes an entire acre of land to produce only 5 to 7 pounds of saffron! Saffron gives the spirit a  pale yellow colour and a slightly spicy flavour. Other ingredients include juniper, almond and orris root. Produced by Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, Cadenhead’s, the company master blender adds the saffron himself to ensure consistency of flavour and colour. The spirit comes in two varieties, a 46% offering, and a navy strength 55% bottle, one of the highest proof gins on the market.

Gin is the fourth largest in the UK spirit category, accounting for 8.7% of spirit sales.

The strongest gin in the world is Blackwood’s Vintage Dry Gin which has an alcohol percentage of 60%. It is produced in Shetland.

Premium Gin:
Gordon’s, Hendrick’s, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater, Martin Miller’s

Super Premium Gin:
The Botanist, Opihr, Tanqueray 10

Craft Gin:
Makar, Old Raj, Eden Mill, Edinburgh gin


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