hist-brewing: Re: GIN History

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Tue Feb 23 05:27:52 PST 1999

<arinwald at waveone.net> asks

>Does anyone know any history behind gin such as nationality/region of
>origin and the time period it was first made?
>I am asking for someone that does not have web access. I don't like Gin
>and have had no prior interest in it's history so I could not answer
>this persons question.

I hate to be rude, but the lack of web access doesn't preclude finding
answers to one's questions.  I presume your friend has access to a public
library.  Finding the answer to a question like this is a *process* that
can lead to much more than just the answer.  There is much interesting
social and economic history involved in the story of gin (Hogarth's
painting "Gin Lane," the gin act of 1736 in England and its repeal six
years later, etc.).

To answer just the basic question:  According to the *BOOK* "Kindred
Spirits" by F. Paul Pacult, gin was first produced in Holland in the 1600s,
and was simply a distilled grain spirit flavored with juniper berries.  It
came to England years later, brought by English soldiers returning from
continental wars.  According to another book, "The New Encyclopedia of Wine
and Spirits" by Alexis Lechine, the English words gin and geneva come from
corruptions of the French jenever and genie'vre, meaning juniper.
Ironically, the English word gin is now creeping back into the French
language, much to the horror of language purists in France.

I hope this stimulates your friend to want to learn more.


Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943. 

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