In Eng­land – NOW!

There has never been such a wealth of choice of ar­ti­san gin for dis­cern­ing con­sumers. Seren Char­ring­ton-hollins meets English pro­duc­ers and tries a lit­tle do-it-yourself.

This England - - In England – Now! -

WHILST a G&T on a warm sum­mer evening may seem ter­ri­bly civilised, in the past gin had a rather seedy rep­u­ta­tion. The term “mother’s ruin” is still used to de­scribe this spirit which is now en­joy­ing a huge resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity.

The first con­firmed date for the pro­duc­tion of gin is in the early 17th cen­tury in Hol­land, although claims have been made that it was pro­duced prior to this in Italy.

One thing is for cer­tain by the mid-1 th cen­tury the ef­fects of gin-drink­ing on English so­ci­ety made the ef­fects of binge drink­ing to­day seem be­nign Gin started out as a medicine in­deed, with its blend of botan­i­cals it was orig­i­nally thought that it could be a cure for gout and in­di­ges­tion and it was cheap. In the 1730s, no­tices could be seen all over Lon­don “Drunk for a penny, Dead drunk for tup­pence, Straw for noth­ing” In Lon­don alone, there were more than 7,000 “dram shops”, and 10 mil­lion gal­lons of gin were be­ing dis­tilled an­nu­ally in the cap­i­tal. Gin was soaked up in an earthy fash­ion, lead­ing to it be­ing as­so­ci­ated with de­pri­va­tion and de­prav­ity.

The favourite tip­ple of the poor, gin ren­dered men im­po­tent, women ster­ile, and was a con­trib­u­tory fac­tor in the birth rate in Lon­don dur­ing this pe­riod be­ing ex­ceeded by the death rate. Shocked by the na­tion’s in­sa­tiable thirst for gin, the govern­ment de­cided that the tax on it must be raised, but this merely drove gin un­der­ground and on to the black mar­ket, do­ing noth­ing to stop the sup­ply or de­mand.

In 1736 a Gin Act was passed which for­bade any­one to sell “Dis­tilled spir­i­tu­ous liquor” with­out first tak­ing out a li­cence cost­ing 50. In the seven years fol­low­ing 1736, only three 50 li­cences were taken out, yet the gal­lons of gin kept on flow­ing.

Gin has now cast off its in­famy and is the bar­tenders’ dar­ling. The world of gin has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the last decade. There are now around 200 dif­fer­ent gins to choose from in the .

Gin must be made from al­co­hol of agri­cul­tural ori­gin, usu­ally ce­re­als, be flavoured with a no­tice­able amount of ju­niper and have an ABV (al­co­hol by vol­ume) of at least 37.5 , but in terms of

other in­gre­di­ents there’s scope for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

Gin pro­duc­ers now flavour their gin with any­thing from cit­rus peels, co­rian­der seeds, milk this­tle and tarragon through to gin­ger, or­ris root (made from the root of the iris and bring­ing flo­ral flavours to gin), saf­fron and spicy cin­na­mon.

When choos­ing your tip­ple, it’s well worth check­ing out the botan­i­cals, and find­ing out a lit­tle about styles. For ex­am­ple, Lon­don Dry doesn’t have to be made in Lon­don, but its botan­i­cals can only be added dur­ing dis­til­la­tion and it con­tains barely any sugar, whereas Ply­mouth Gin is sim­i­lar, but can only be made in Ply­mouth.

If a bot­tle doesn’t men­tion a style then botan­i­cals may have been added af­ter dis­til­la­tion along with sugar or sweet­en­ers. This type of gin and Old Tom style (his­tor­i­cally made with liquorice) is likely to suit you more if you have a sweet tooth.

On a uest to find out more about ar­ti­san gin, I caught up with the founders of the Brighton Gin Com­pany to ask what makes gin such a spe­cial drink.

The styling of the bot­tle and colour scheme adopted for Brighton Gin re­minded me of an eau de cologne, and I must say it wouldn’t look out of place on a 1920s stage dress­ing ta­ble, but its good looks are sur­passed by its taste.

Brighton Gin is made with 100 Bri­tish or­ganic wheat spirit and it’s free from pesky ad­di­tives they then re-dis­til with ju­niper, fresh orange and lime peel, lo­cally grown co­rian­der seed and milk this­tle, which is in­dige­nous to the South Downs.

I spoke to ane eat­ing at Brighton Gin, who ex­plained that it’s a small-batch-dis­tilled, su­per-pre­mium gin, hand­made from be­gin­ning to end, down to each bot­tle be­ing hand-la­belled and waxed in the colour of Brighton’s iconic seafront rail­ings. The gin flavour­ing was several years in the mak­ing, with the founders athy Ca­ton and He­len Chesshire spend­ing a long time de­vel­op­ing recipes.

Af­ter much ex­per­i­men­ta­tion they opted for a clas­sic ju­niper berry, which used to grow wild on the South Downs, though sadly is now hard to find fresh orange peel co­rian­der seeds, which come from a farm near Ringer and milk this­tle, which grows on the South Downs and is known for its liver-cleans­ing prop­er­ties.

It’s nice to see that gin is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a com­mer­cial re­vival at the hands of ex­cit­ing new ar­ti­san com­pa­nies.

Whilst I don’t have the abil­ity to pro­duce gin from scratch, I re­ally en­joy mak­ing a va­ri­ety of gin in­fu­sions, such as cran­berry or even Turk­ish de­light gin.

But how are al­co­hol in­fu­sions made Well, let me talk you through each stage of the in­fu­sion process so that you can start ex­per­i­ment­ing, but I take no re­spon­si­bil­ity for sore heads.

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