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The exact origins and history of gin are somewhat disputed, but it is generally believed to have originated in the Netherlands in the 16th century. At that time, the Dutch were known for their distillation techniques, and they produced a wide range of spirits, including genever, a malted grain spirit that was flavored with juniper berries.
Genever was popular among soldiers and sailors, as it was believed to have medicinal properties and to provide courage and strength. It was also used as a form of payment and was sometimes given to soldiers as part of their wages. As the Dutch began to trade with other countries, including England, genever began to make its way across Europe, and it was soon adopted by the English, who put their own spin on the spirit.
One of the key differences between English gin and Dutch genever was the use of different base spirits. While genever was made from malted grains, English gin was made from a neutral spirit that was usually distilled from barley or wheat. This made it a more affordable and accessible spirit that could be produced on a larger scale.
The popularity of gin in England really took off in the 17th century, when it became known as “Dutch courage” and was seen as a way to cope with the harsh realities of life in the city. Gin was cheap and readily available, and it was often consumed in large quantities by the working class. This led to a number of social problems, including drunkenness, violence, and even death, and the government was forced to take action.
In 1736, the Gin Act was passed, which placed restrictions on the production and sale of gin. It was now illegal to sell gin without a license, and licenses were only granted to established distillers who could prove that they were producing a high-quality spirit. This helped to improve the reputation of gin and to reduce the consumption of low-quality, potentially dangerous gin.
Over time, gin continued to evolve, and new styles of gin emerged. In the 19th century, London Dry gin became popular, which was a drier, more refined style of gin that was flavored with a range of botanicals, including lemon peel, angelica root, and orris root. This style of gin became the benchmark for quality gin, and it is still popular today.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in gin, with new distilleries popping up all over the world and new styles of gin emerging. Some distillers are experimenting with unusual botanicals, such as seaweed, lavender, and saffron, while others are aging gin in barrels to add a new dimension of flavor.
Today, gin is enjoyed by people all over the world, and it is used in a wide range of cocktails and mixed drinks. Whether you prefer a classic gin and tonic or a more creative cocktail, Red Hen Gin is a versatile spirit that has a rich and fascinating history.
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