A short history lesson: Did gin really originate in England?

A short history lesson: Did gin really originate in England?
May 11, 2016 Gin Lane

This is a source of confusion for some, so let’s try to clear it up.

Gin as we know it today; a distilled, pure, clear spirit with juniper flavour was developed in London around the 17th century. Where some confusion comes in, is this was undoubtedly influenced by the Dutch spirit jenever, another juniper flavoured spirit.

The key difference is jenever was made from distilling malt.  Juniper (and other herbs) was added to make it more palatable, along with its purported medicinal properties. This led to jenever being sold in pharmacies and in its early years being treated as a medicinal drink.

London gin was developed as a distilled, clear spirit, which had juniper flavour added. To add further complexity, there are several types of gin, which we will look at another day.

Today old (oude) and young (jonge) jenever are still popular in Holland and Belgium, the young being closer to the traditional London gin, while the old is closer in style to the original jenever.

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