Christine, my dear wife of nine months, has recently discovered that she likes gin. I’m sure most of you have heard of gin, but essentially it’s an alcoholic spirit, usually made with juniper berries, that is commonly consumed with tonic water. It can also be served with lime, bergamots or cucumber.
Gin used to be incredibly popular in England, in a period during the early 18th century called the ‘Gin Craze‘. Back then, even the average person would consume 10 litres of gin each year – roughly equivalent to six single gin and tonics a week. This was partly due to the fact that gin was safer than water, which was frequently contaminated. It had a renaissance in the 19th century, when ‘Gin palaces‘ started appearing, but nowadays it isn’t so popular.
Certainly if you were to go to a typical pub today, your choice of gin would be rather limited. In Britain, Gordon’s is the biggest selling brand, and frequently is the only one available. Though I don’t really like gin myself, Christine informs me that Gordon’s isn’t particularly good – i.e. Gordon’s is to gin like Foster’s is to beer.
A number of places will also sell Bombay Sapphire, which is distilled in England despite its name. Better pubs may have Hendricks or Beefeater. But if you’re lucky enough to happen across a bar with a bigger range of gin brands, then there are a large number to choose from. In fact, if you have around £100 to spare, then you can buy the Givent Calendar – an advent calendar with 24 drams of gin, each one a different variety. My cousin has bought this for two years’ running.
For those with a passion for gin, then there are gin festivals where you can try different varieties – like at a beer festival. Leeds played host to one last year, and the Manchester Gin Festival is on the 5th April.
I’m afraid I find gin a bit too bitter, although I recently tried Hendricks and tonic and it was quite nice. And I quite like damson gin. But unlike my wife, I can’t see myself drinking it regularly.