Monday, 23 May 2016

The Origin of 'Gin'

Dr Sylvius
Gin was first distilled in the 1600s in Holland and soon became a popular drink, especially amongst the poor because it was cheap to make and consume. For no more than a penny people could get drunk. In 1751 there were approximately 7000 establishments where people could buy gin in London.

Gin was first made by a Dutch Professor of medicine, Dr Sylvius, who wanted a diuretic to get rid of excess water in the body. He used distilled juniper berries which were potent as well as fine-tasting. Patients reportedly kept asking for repeat prescriptions. Before long, the drink lost its medical connotations and became a recreational tipple. The Dutch called this drink ‘Genever’ (their word for ‘juniper’).

When English soldiers were first introduced to gin, they confused its name with the Swiss city Geneva which is why for a long time ‘gin’ was spelt with a capital ‘G’ as people believed it was a proper noun. Over time, ‘Geneva’ was shortened to ‘gin’.   

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