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Published by: Judith Victorio De Guzman on Jul 28, 2011
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThis article is about the beverage. For other uses, seeGin (disambiguation).A selection of bottled gins offered at aliquor store in Decatur, Georgia, United States
is aspiritwhose predominant flavor is derived from juniper berries (
 Juniperus communis
).Although several different styles of gin have existed since its origins, it is broadly differentiatedinto two basic legal categories.
Distilled gin
is crafted in the traditional manner, by redistillingneutral spiritsof agricultural origin with juniper berries and other botanicals.
Compound gin
ismade by simply flavoring neutral spirit with essences and/or other 'natural flavorings' withoutredistillation, and is not as highly regarded. The minimum bottled alcoholic strength for gin is37.5%ABVin the E.U., and 40% ABV in the U.S.
Of the several distinct styles of gin,
London dry gin
, a type of distilled gin, is the most common.In addition to the predominant juniper content, London dry gin is usually distilled in the presenceof accenting citrus botanicals, such as lemon and  bitter orangepeel, as well as a subtle combination of other spices, including any of  anise, angelica root and seed,orris root, licorice  root,cinnamon, almond,cubeb, savory, limepeel,grapefruitpeel,dragon eye,saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander , grains of paradise,nutmegandcassiabark. London dry gin may not contain added sugar or colorants; water is the only permitted additive.
Some legal classifications of gin are defined only as originating from specific geographical areas(e.g.Plymouth gin, Ostfriesischer Korngenever,Slovenská borovička,Kraški Brinjevec, etc.), while other common descriptors refer to classic styles that are culturally recognized, but notlegally defined (e.g.sloe ginandOld Tom gin
[edit] Etymology
The name
is derived from either theFrench 
or the Dutch 
,which both mean"juniper".
The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica states that the word
is an abbreviation of "Geneva", both words being derived from the French
[edit] History
Juniper berries were recognized from ancient times as possessing medicinal properties. By the11th century, Italian monks were flavoring crudely distilled spirits with juniper berries. DuringtheBlack Plague,this drink was used, although ineffectively, as a remedy. As the science of  distillation advanced from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance period, juniper was one of many botanicals employed by virtue of its perfume, flavor, and medicinal properties.TheDutchphysicianFranciscus Sylviusis credited with the invention of gin.
By the mid 17thcentury, numerous small Dutch and Belgian distillers (some 400 in Amsterdam alone by 1663)had popularized the redistillation of malt spirit or wine with juniper, anise, caraway, coriander,etc.,
which were sold in pharmaciesand used to treat such medical problems as kidney  ailments,lumbago,stomachailments,gallstones,andgout. It was found in Holland by English troops who were fighting against the Spanish in the Eighty Years War  who noticed its calming effects before battle, which is the origin of the term Dutch courage.
Gin emerged inEngland in varying forms as of the early 17th century, and at the time of the Restoration, enjoyeda brief resurgence. When William of Orange,ruler of the Dutch Republic,occupied the British throne with his wife Mary in what has become known as the Glorious Revolution, gin became vastly more popular,
particularly in crude, inferior forms, where it was more likely to beflavored withturpentine
Gin became popular in England after the government allowed unlicensed gin production and atthe same time imposed a heavydutyon all imported spirits. This created a market for poor-quality grain that was unfit for brewing beer ,and thousands of gin-shops sprang up throughout England, a period known as theGin Craze.By 1740, the production of gin had increased to six times that of beer,
and because of its price, it became popular with the poor. Of the15,000 drinking establishments inLondon, over half were gin shops. Beer maintained a healthyreputation as it was often safer to drink the brewed ale than unclean plain water .Gin, though, was blamed for various social and medical problems, and it may have been a factor in the higher death rates which stabilized London's previously growing population.
 The reputation of the twodrinks was illustrated byWilliam Hogarth in his engravings
(1751).This negative reputation survives today in the English language, in terms like "gin mills" or "gin joints" to describe disreputable bars or "gin-soaked" to refer to drunks, and in the phrase"mother's ruin," a common British name for gin. Brief poem seen circa 1940, anonymous: "The principal sin, Of Gin, Is, among others, Ruining mothers".TheGin Act 1736imposed high taxes on retailers and led to riots in the streets. The prohibitiveduty was gradually reduced and finally abolished in 1742. TheGin Act 1751 was more successful, however. It forced distillers to sell only to licensed retailers and brought gin shopsunder the jurisdiction of local magistrates.
Gin in the 18th century was produced in pot stills,and was somewhat sweeter than the London gin known today.InLondonin the early 18th century, gin sold on the black marketwas prepared in illicit stills (of  which there were 1,500 in 1726), and was often adulterated withturpentineandsulfuric acid.
As late as 1913,
 states without further comment, " 'common gin' is usuallyflavored with turpentine."
Dutch or Belgian gin, also known as
, evolved from malt wine spirits, and is adistinctly different drink from later styles of gin.
isdistilledat least partially from  barley  malt (and/or other grain) using a pot still, and is sometimes aged in wood. This typically lends aslightly malty flavor and/or a resemblance towhisky.Schiedam,a city in the province of  South Holland, is famous for its
-producing history. It is typically lower in alcohol content anddistinctly different from gins distilled strictly from neutral spirits (e.g. London dry gin). The
(old) style of 
remained very popular throughout the 19th century, where it wasreferred to as "Holland" or "Geneva" gin in popular pre-Prohibition bartender guides.
Thecolumn stillwas invented in 1832, making the distillation of neutral spirits practical, andenabling the creation of the "London dry" style, which was developed later in the 19th century.In tropical British colonies, gin was used to mask the bitter flavor of  quinine, which was the only effective antimalarial compound. The quinine was dissolved in carbonated water to formtonicwater ; the resulting mix became the origin of today's popular  gin and toniccombination, although modern tonic water contains only a trace of quinine as a flavoring.Gin is a popular base spirit for many classic mixed drinks, including the martini.Secretly  produced "bathtub gin" was commonly available in thespeakeasiesand " blind pigs" of  Prohibition-era America due to the relative simplicity of the production method. Gin remained popular as the basis of manycocktailsafter the repeal of Prohibition.Sloe ginis traditionally described as a liqueur made by infusingsloes(the fruit of the blackthorn) in gin, although modern versions are almost always compounded from neutral spirits andflavorings. Similar infusions are possible with other fruits, such asdamsons (damson gin). The National Gin Museum is inHasselt, Belgium.

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