National Gin Day

Gin is well known as a British product, we see Beefeater all over the place. It is, after all, London’s national drink and many famous gins are produced here.

However, the first known date for the production of gin was in 17th Century Holland.

It was sold in chemist shops to treat stomach issues, gout and gallstones. The first known mention of it is in 1269 in a Dutch publication.

It was also known for treating urinary tract infections, heart failure and gonorrhea. Today, however, it is believed it may affect your blood pressure and possibly irritate your stomach and intestines. Another concern is for diabetics with its possibility of your blood sugar dropping too low. Usual medication lowers it but so does the juniper so it’s a double whammy. Keep in mind, these are all possibles so speak with your doctor.

Gin made from Juniper Berries. The full recipe has been kept secret for 250 years.

Interestingly, pregnant women should not consume juniper berries as it could cause a miscarriage. If you’re trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding, avoid it as well. Large amounts for anyone is not recommended either. The volatile oils in the berries could cause mild toxicity symptoms such as diarrhea, kidney damage, convulsions and DNA damage.

Traditional dosage was between 2 and 10 grams of berries or 20 to 100 milligrams of essential oil. If you’re making a tea, limit yourself to 1 to 2 cups per day of steeped berries or twigs from the juniper plant. Take a break from it after 2 weeks. Again, talk to your doctor especially if you currently take any medication.

History, Continued

The English discovered gin during the 30 years war in the 17th Century while fighting in Holland. The Dutch soldiers were drinking Jenever to boost morale before a battle. Hence, the term Dutch Courage.

150 years later, the English produced their own version and have grown since to become a huge gin producer. To browse the many varieties, visit the Gin Guild.

The Royal Navy mixed it with lime to combat scurvy and they mixed it with the tonic water for its benefits of quinine which battlled malaria. See previous Gin and Tonic post for a refresher.

Aside from the grain that is distilled to produce gin, such as barley, juniper berries is a main ingredient.

Other common ingredients are coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, cucumber, rose, lavender, lemon peel,  black pepper, almond, or licorice. Any variations of these can be blended with the distilled grain to produce gin.

There are versions with as little as 3 ingredients and a Scottish version, The Botanist Islay Gin, with 31! The Citadelle runs a close second with 19.

60 million cases  of Gin are sold worldwide every year. About 45% of that is consumed in the Philippines.

You’ll easily find a London gin at the liquor store but if you are looking for the Dutch version, keep an eye out for Genever which is basically the same. LCBO carries Bols Genever.

As a reminder, try Jack’s Tonique which is available in Ontario and Quebec. Visit their site for all retailers, which is rapidly expanding, and establishments that use it for mixing their drinks.

How Else To Enjoy Gin

Earl Grey tea with Gin and tonic.

Chamomile tea with honey and lemon, oh, and gin.

Lavender syrup, if you can find it, with elder flower liqueur and gin. Add some lemon to cut the sweetness. Elder flower is an awesome mix and will compliment any home liquor supply.

Try a refreshing gin and sparkling wine or champagne.

Shake gin with mint and cucumber for a fresh summer drink, top with club soda.

Drop into your favorite local bar and your server will surely come up with a delicious concoction for you.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on June 10, 2017