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49 Gin Facts

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Gin, known for its unique taste of juniper, is a favourite drink for many people around the world. Its influence goes beyond just being a popular choice at bars; it has a rich history that touches on culture, society, and even medicine. 

From the story behind “Dutch courage” to the invention of the Gimlet, gin’s journey is full of interesting twists and turns. 

Whether you’re already a fan or just getting to know gin, here are 49 fascinating facts that showcase its important role and wide-reaching impact..

..and if after reading this article you want to get to know gin a little better, why not try some of our famous Henley Gin or book our Gin Making Experience?

1. Dutch Courage Anyone? 

The phrase ‘Dutch courage’ is believed to originate from the 17th century during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. 

It refers to the supposed courage or boldness that comes from consuming alcoholic beverages, particularly gin, before facing a challenging or fearful situation. The implication is, that the individual gains a false sense of bravery through the influence of alcohol. 

2. Juniper’s Near Extinction 

In 2015, a Plantlife study revealed that juniper was in a ‘critical state’ because of a harmful fungus called phytophthora austrocedrae that was spreading throughout Scotland. 

Fortunately, the Scottish plant used to flavour gin managed to survive, sparing us from the unimaginable.. 

3. The Gimlet’s Citrus Lifesaver

To stave off scurvy, a perilous condition caused by vitamin C deficiency, the Royal Navy concocted a mix of gin and lime juice, giving birth to the refreshing elixir we now know as the Gimlet. 

The Gimlet stands as a testament to the intersection of necessity and innovation, showcasing how historical challenges spurred the creation of enduring and delightful traditions.

4. Dr. Sylvius and Genever

During the 16th century, Dr. Franciscus Sylvius, a renowned Dutch physician, emerged as a pivotal figure in the evolution of spirits. His noteworthy contribution lay in the refinement of a beverage known as ‘genever,’ a spirit infused with juniper berries. 

This particular concoction, characterised by the aromatic essence of juniper, is often hailed as a precursor to the modern gin we savour today.

5. Juniper’s Healing Touch

The early version of gin was more of a medicinal elixir, using juniper berries known for their therapeutic properties. Juniper berries are believed to have therapeutic properties due to their rich concentration of antioxidants and essential oils. These components are thought to have potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. 

6. The Puss-and-Mew Machine 

In 18th century Britain, a device called the ‘the puss-and-mew’ operated on a straightforward premise. Gin-sellers strategically located a window in a distant alley, far from the main entrance of a building. 

This window was concealed with a wooden cat. When a potential gin-buyer approached, they would address the cat, saying, “Puss, give me two pennyworth of gin,” and then insert coins into the cat’s mouth. The coins would slide inward to the gin-seller, who, in turn, would dispense the gin through a lead pipe emerging under the cat’s paw.

It is Jacob’s belief that this formed the origin of the gin style “Old Tom” which is slightly sweetened, possibly to hide the metallic taste of the lead piping

7. Which Countries Drink the Most Gin?

The Philippines, the United States, and Spain are the main consumers of gin and tonic worldwide. The Philippines holds the title for the world’s largest gin market based on volume, with the local brand Ginebra taking a dominant position. 

Surpassing all other nations, the Filipino passion for gin has created a unique cultural phenomenon, with individuals across the archipelago embracing the juniper-infused drink as an integral part of their social fabric.

8. Bathtub Gin Era

During the Prohibition era in the United States (1920-1933), homemade or ‘bathtub gin’ became prevalent. With alcohol production and distribution banned, individuals resorted to clandestine methods to make gin at home.

The quality varied widely, and the term ‘bathtub gin’ reflects the makeshift and often questionable methods employed during this period of restricted alcohol access.

9. Gin’s Political Ties to Britain

Gin’s journey to Britain is intertwined with political shifts, notably the ascension of Dutch William of Orange to the English throne.

10. Gin Won’t Freeze

Thanks to its robust alcohol content, gin defies freezing. Pop it into the freezer, and it remains in its liquid state. Yet, when sipped neat, it delivers a brilliant chill, enhancing its flavours for an even more enjoyable experience.

11. Gin Palaces of the Past

During the vibrant 19th century, the urban landscape of cities was embellished with extravagant gin palaces, creating opulent havens for the enjoyment of gin and socialising. These establishments were more than mere drinking venues; they were architectural marvels that redefined the experience of consuming gin.

Gin palaces of this era were characterised by their grandeur, featuring ornate decorations, mirrored walls, and dazzling chandeliers that bathed patrons in a warm and inviting glow. The opulence of these establishments aimed to provide a luxurious backdrop for the burgeoning gin culture that was sweeping through society.

12. Social Issues and Government Intervention

 In 18th-century London, the Gin Craze reached staggering heights, leading to a proliferation of gin shops. The affordability of gin, often referred to as ‘Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two,’ resulted in widespread social issues. 

The British government implemented various Gin Acts to curb consumption, reflecting the societal impact of the craze.

13. The Impact of the 1751 Gin Act

The 1751 Gin Act brought stricter regulations and harsher punishments, significantly influencing the gin industry in Britain. Imprisonment and whipping for a second offence if an individual was caught selling gin illegal, and transportation for a third offence! 

14. London Dry Gin Misconception

Contrary to popular belief, ‘ London Dry Gin‘ can be produced anywhere globally; the term refers to a specific distillation process rather than the origin which was London, UK.

15. Gin’s Royal Seal

Gin achieved a prestigious recognition by garnering the royal seal of approval from one of the world’s most famous gin drinkers; Queen Elizabeth II herself.

This significant milestone in the world of spirits occurred when Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the coveted Royal Warrant upon a select group of gin producers. 

By granting the Royal Warrant to several gin producers, Queen Elizabeth II not only acknowledged the excellence in craftsmanship and quality of these gin brands but also elevated their status to a level of distinction. 

16. The Plague 

In the years of the plague, doctors adopted an unusual practice by wearing masks filled with juniper berries. The prevailing belief was that the plague spread through noxious odours. 

In response, communities embraced a range of juniper-centric practices, including incorporating juniper into their diets, enjoying wine infused with juniper, indulging in juniper-infused baths, and even applying juniper oil to their bodies. 

17. Gin’s Dutch Roots

Gin traces its origins to the Netherlands, where it evolved from a medicinal tonic in the Middle Ages to the renowned spirit we know today.

18. Gin and Tonic’s Malaria Roots

The timeless pairing of gin and tonic traces its roots back to an unexpected origin – the quest for a remedy for malaria, thought to be born in India

This historic alliance emerged during the era when European colonists faced the scourge of malaria in tropical regions. Tonic water, a carbonated beverage with a distinct bitter taste, was introduced as a means of administering quinine, a compound derived from the bark of the cinchona tree.

19. Gin’s Literary Influence

Gin has inspired various literary works. In the Victorian era, Charles Dickens, a literary luminary known for his vivid depictions of societal nuances, infused gin into his works as a reflection of the socioeconomic conditions of the time. 

The portrayal of gin shops, often associated with poverty and social struggles, became a poignant motif in Dickens’ novels, offering readers a glimpse into the complexities of Victorian London.

20. Record-Breaking Gins

At Harvey Nichols, a bottle of gin achieved the remarkable price tag of £4,000. This exclusive spirit is crafted through a meticulous process, distilled from the leaves of a singular ‘ancient’ Mulberry tree, scientifically known as Morus Nigra. 

What sets it apart is the labour-intensive method of hand-harvesting and individually drying each leaf, infusing the gin with a distinctive character derived from the essence of this unique tree.

21. Gin Emerges as an Ideal Culinary Companion

While red wine complements cured meats and white wine pairs well with prawns, finding an excellent match between food and spirits is a rarity. 

Gin, with its remarkable versatility, stands out as a superior choice compared to vodka or bourbon when it comes to pairing with food. The distillation process of gin allows it to harmonise effortlessly with a variety of herbs, enabling seamless alignment with dishes that share its nuanced flavour profile. 

22. Unique Regional Gins

The world of gin is a tapestry woven with regional nuances and diverse botanical landscapes, with distillers crafting gins that not only embody the essence of juniper but also draw inspiration from locally abundant botanicals, creating distinct flavours that tell a tale of their geographical roots.

In the sun-kissed Mediterranean regions, gin takes on a herbaceous character, infused with aromatic botanicals like rosemary, thyme, and basil. 

Venturing to the Nordic territories, Scandinavian gins often feature unique twists, such as the infusion of lingonberries. 

This indigenous berry imparts a delightful tartness and berry-forward note to the gin, providing a taste that reflects the pristine landscapes and Nordic traditions. The result is a gin that marries the classic juniper backbone with the distinctive flavours of local berries.

23. The Negroni’s Gin Heritage

The Negroni cocktail, a classic made with equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari, celebrates gin’s enduring role in mixology. Conceived in 1919 by Count Camillo Negroni in Florence, Italy, the Negroni is, in fact, a spin-off of another timeless cocktail, the Americano.

24. The Patience of Sloe Berry Infusion

Crafting sloe gin is not for the impatient! The infusion process involves allowing the sloe berries, a small and tart fruit, to steep in gin for an extended period. 

Traditionally, this waiting game spans several months, during which the gin absorbs the flavours of the berries, resulting in a rich and complex autumnal delight. 

So, savouring sloe gin is not just about enjoying the taste; it’s also a celebration of the patience and anticipation that goes into its creation.

25. Gin’s Rising Popularity in Asia

Gin has seen a surge in popularity in Asia, with distilleries creating unique expressions that incorporate local botanicals.

26. Aviation Gin’s Celebrity Tie

Aviation Gin gained global attention when actor Ryan Reynolds became a co-owner, showcasing the intersection of entertainment and spirits. 

27. Gin’s Sustainable Movement

Sustainability. is a growing focus in the gin industry, with distilleries adopting eco-friendly practices and sourcing ethical ingredients. 

28. Gin and the American Colonies 

During the colonial era in America, gin emerged as a fascinating and influential player in the economic landscape, extending its significance far beyond being a beverage. 

As European colonists established settlements and trade networks, the versatile nature of gin, with its ability to serve both as a libation and a tradable commodity, made it a valuable and multifaceted asset in the shaping of early American economic interactions. 

Gin’s role as a form of currency in trade was particularly noteworthy. In the absence of standardised currency and with a scarcity of precious metals, commodities like gin took on the function of a medium of exchange. 

Colonists, traders, and indigenous populations engaged in transactions where gin was used as a valuable and sought-after commodity to facilitate the exchange of goods and services.

29. Historic Gin Cocktails

Classic cocktails like the Tom Collins and the Gin Fizz have endured through the ages, showcasing gin’s timeless appeal.

30. Gin Lane and Social Commentary

In 1751, artist William Hogarth depicted the societal impact of the Gin Craze in his engraving titled ‘Gin Lane’. 

This powerful artwork vividly portrayed the devastating consequences of excessive gin consumption in London, showcasing scenes of poverty, neglect, and moral decay. 

Hogarth used his art as a form of social commentary, aiming to raise awareness about the perils of the Gin Craze and advocate for societal reform. ‘Gin Lane’ remains a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness between art, culture, and the historical narrative of gin in 18th-century London.

31. The Gin Ration During World War II

During World War II, gin played a unique role in the lives of British soldiers. Recognising its potential as a morale booster, the British government allocated a daily gin ration to the troops.

This unexpected indulgence aimed to uplift spirits and provide a moment of relaxation amid the challenges of wartime. 

Gin became a symbol of camaraderie and respite, with soldiers valuing their daily ration as a small yet significant comfort amidst the rigours of the battlefield. This historical footnote showcases the multifaceted ways in which gin has been intertwined with cultural and social narratives throughout history.

32. Gin’s Jazz Connection: Speakeasies and Swing

In the vibrant era of Prohibition in the United States (1920-1933), gin found itself in the clandestine heart of speakeasies, illegal bars that proliferated during this time. 

These hidden establishments not only served as havens for those seeking forbidden libations but also became hotbeds for the flourishing jazz and swing music scene.

The lively and improvisational nature of jazz resonated with the rebellious spirit of the speakeasy culture. Gin, being a versatile and easily mixable spirit, became a popular choice in the creation of clandestine cocktails, adding a touch of sophistication to the atmosphere.

33. Ginger Rogers 

American actress and singer Ginger Rogers is best known for her numerous star roles in movies like Top Cat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936) and Bachelor Mother (1939). 

Yet a cocktail emerged out of Portland in 1995 by Marcovaldo Dionysos in homage to the great actress.  The Ginger Rogers is made with 30ml dry gin, mint leaves, ginger ale and lime juice! 

34. The World’s Largest Gin Collection

The world’s most extensive gin collection is housed at Atlas Bar, Singapore.  

35. Artisanal Craft Gins

The rise of artisanal craft distilleries has brought forth a myriad of small-batch, handcrafted gins, each with its unique character. 

36. The Gin Boom in Australia

Australia has experienced a gin boom, with a surge in local distilleries producing unique and award-winning gins. In the span of a decade, the count of gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, and brandy distillers in South Australia has surged from 10 to approximately 100 by the year 2023.

Australian gin producers often draw inspiration from the country’s diverse and native botanicals, infusing their creations with distinctive flavours that reflect the terroir. From the aromatic notes of native eucalyptus to the citrusy zing of finger limes, these local botanicals contribute to a rich tapestry of flavours that sets Australian gins apart on the global stage.

37. Gin Festivals Worldwide

Gin festivals have become global events, attracting enthusiasts to explore and celebrate the diversity of gin offerings. The UK’s biggest festival being Gin Fest Co. held in Surrey during September each year. 

38. Blue Cheese Anyone? 

Sloe gin proves to be an extraordinary companion to robust, blue cheeses, creating a symphony of flavours that dance on the palate. 

The deep, fruity richness of sloe gin elegantly complements the bold and tangy notes of the cheese, forming a top tier pairing that elevates both the gin and the cheese to new heights!

39. Wild Wild Juniper 

Juniper stands apart in the botanical world, its essence largely rooted in the untamed. In an era where the majority of ingredients find their origins in cultivated fields, juniper berries defy the trend. 

Nearly all junipers proudly thrive in their natural habitats, scattered across landscapes that span from rugged hillsides to windswept moors.

40. Vintage Gin Advertisements

In the bygone era of the early to mid-20th century, vintage gin advertisements were not merely promotional materials but captivating works of art that mirrored the sophistication and elegance associated with the spirit. 

These advertisements, often found in magazines and posters, showcased a unique blend of artistic creativity and the allure of gin as a symbol of refinement.

Illustrations and typography in these vintage ads were crafted with meticulous attention to detail, capturing the essence of the times. Gin, presented as a spirit of distinction, was often portrayed as an accessory to glamorous social occasions, where sophistication and conviviality took centre stage.

41. Taste the Difference 

If you want to really get the taste of different gins, try them at room temperature with an equal splash of water. It’s the perfect way to discover what makes each gin special and find any quirks or flaws. 

42. The Martini’s Gin Connection

The classic Martini cocktail is traditionally made with gin, vermouth, and garnished with an olive or lemon twist.

43. Sir Francis Chichester 

Following Sir Francis Chichester’s historic solo circumnavigation of the world by sailboat, he attributed his success to a daily ritual involving a glass of pink gin (a delightful mix of gin, Angostura bitters, and cold water). Chichester fondly remarked that the most disheartening day of his journey was the one when the supply of gin finally depleted. 

44. The Hangover Cure 

Back in 1928, New York City was buzzing with the trend of using gin and tomato juice as a go-to remedy for hangovers, predating the introduction of the vodka-infused Bloody Mary at the King Cole Room in the St. Regis Hotel.

45. Gin’s Influence on Fashion

Gin, beyond being a beloved beverage, has transcended its traditional confines to influence the realm of fashion. 

The infusion of gin-related elements into fashion reflects not only a love for libation but also an acknowledgment of its place in contemporary lifestyle. 

From playful prints featuring iconic gin glasses and juniper berries to intricate embroidery showcasing the artistry of distillation apparatus, the world of fashion has embraced the diverse visual elements associated with gin.

46. World Gin Day

World Gin Day marks a worldwide celebration of the beloved spirit, observed annually on the second Saturday of June. In the upcoming year, World Gin Day 2024 falls on Saturday, June 8. Originating in 2009, this event has grown into a global phenomenon, with festivities taking place in over 30 countries. 

47. Navy Strength Gin 

Delving into the quirky historical practices surrounding gin, naval officers of yesteryears employed a rather explosive method to gauge the quality of their beloved spirit. In a fascinating ritual, they would douse gunpowder with a measure of gin and, with a keen eye on quality, assess the ensuing combustibility. 

The logic behind this peculiar test lay in the belief that the better the gin, the more robustly the gunpowder would ignite.

48. Gin’s Cinematic Presence

Gin has made its mark in cinema, often associated with sophisticated characters and iconic movie scenes, like James Bond’s preference for a classic gin martini.

49. Gin’s Artistic Labels

Gin bottles often feature artistic labels, showcasing the creativity and attention to detail in the packaging of this beloved spirit.