Leah Hyslop, gin lover author of the awesome new book Made in London and Food Director at Sainsbury’s Magazine, shares ten things you never knew about gin…
Gin was actually born in the Netherlands
It feels as British as fish and chips but gin is the offspring of a juniper-infused spirit called genever , which comes from the Netherlands. English soldiers developed a taste for it when we fought alongside the Dutch in the 1600s.
The Philippines drink us under the table
Filipino gin fans put away over 20 million cases a year, almost half of the world’s overall gin consumption.
‘Gin and gingerbread’ used to be a classic food pairing.
When the Thames froze over in the 18th and 19th centuries, ‘Frost fairs’ were held on the ice. Stalls selling hot gin and a sticky slab of gingerbread were particularly popular with chilly skaters.
Your G&T could be in danger.
Juniper berries are the key botanical which gives gin its flavour, but a fungus-like pathogen called Phytophthora austrocedri has affected many juniper plants in recent years.
Juniper berries aren’t berries
….even though they look a lot like them. They’re actually cones, like pine cones.
In the 18th century, London went mad for gin
The average person necked between one and two pints of gin a week – and they didn’t even dilute it with tonic.
Our ancestors drank gin at their own risk
Gin retailers used to stir in everything from turpentine and cayenne pepper to sulphuric acid, to make the precious liquor stretch further. Sometimes they’d even add a mild sedative, so customers would think they were drunk when all they were glugging was spiced water.
You can stay in a gin hotel
Owned by London gin brand Portobello Road, The Distillery is a four-floor temple to all things gin. There’s a tasting and distilling room, two gin bars and three bedrooms where you can sleep off your hangover.
The oldest working gin distillery in the world is in Devon
Located in a former monastery, Plymouth Gin has been helping gin-fuelled good times roll since 1793.
There was once a gin vending machine in London
In the 1700s, when the government tried to clamp down on excessive gin consumption, a
clever chap called Captain Dudley Bradstreet created a cat-shaped sign with a lead pipe in the cat’s paw. Customers popped a coin into the cat’s mouth, and the captain poured gin down the pipe for them to catch.