Over the last few months, this little corner of the magazine has barely scratched the large & ever-changing surface of the beer world, but it’s a new year, so I think it’s about time we moved onto a new drink.
Anyone fancy a cheeky G&T? That’s right, the next few months will see us get to know a little more about gin, because unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have failed to notice just how ubiquitous gin is these days. It’s undergone a huge resurgence, industry estimations are that there are over 600 UK gin brands, & nearly 200 distilleries in the UK alone. Historically, though, gin wasn’t always the preserve of middle-class England. Indeed, if you delve a bit deeper, the origins of gin did not show early 18th century society in the best light. Two reasons: it was cheap, & it was widely available. Duty was lower than beer, imported spirits such as brandy were expensive, & gin was even used as part payment of wages so is it any wonder that the government of the time estimated that the average Londoner drank 14 gallons of gin each year! That’s where we first came to get a taste for gin, however it was the need to make the anti-malaria compound, quinine, which was dissolved into carbonated water, more palatable that gave us the G&T that is now synonymous with an English summers’ day.
Not only are we a little bit more reserved in our consumption these days, but we’re somewhat more sophisticated in our palates. Long gone are the days when you were lucky if you got a choice of Gordons or Beefeater. Distillers are becoming more adventurous with the botanicals that they add to the base spirit, using everything from fruits, to tea, to flowers, to even hops. Yep, you can get gin infused with the same hops you get in your beer. What a time to be alive! So, let us start with the basics. Gin is a liquor or distilled spirit that derives its predominant taste or flavour from juniper berries. It started its life as a herbal medicine, & gin, as we know it today, can trace its roots back to the Dutch liquor, jenever. Jenever came from distilling malt wine to about 50% abv, however this rendered it pretty much undrinkable until herbs, & juniper berries in particular, were added to mask the taste. There are a number of ways in which we can make gin, & all are based around how the botanicals can be added to the base spirit, & over the next few editions, we’ll look at them all.
I’ll sign off by remarking on how, unbelievably, the Bottle Bank is fast approaching its 2nd birthday. Thanks to your fabulous support, the last 2 years have flown by, & I am immensely chuffed at how hard this little team has worked to bring some of the best drinks in the world to Holmes Chapel. Every day, I get told how each & every one of them has not just grown as individuals, they’ve given the village another award-winning venue, helped bring the community together, & put smiles on peoples faces.
I couldn’t be more proud.
Rich - The Beer Emporium