Rogue Spirits History Of Gin

As we toast National Gin Day, how much do you really know about the spirit that’s the grandfather of cocktails?

To begin our history lesson, let’s turn back the clock 250-million years.

Triassic World

Juniperus_communis_conesAll gins are flavored with juniper berries, one of the longest living plants in the world. Juniper was widespread during the Triassic period when all the continents were lumped together in a giant land mass known as Pangaea.

As the continents drifted apart, they brought juniper with them. Which is why today you find juniper bushes and trees all over the world, except for Antarctica.

Good For What Ails You 

Our ancestors learned long ago that juniper berries had healing properties and were prescribed for stomach aches, liver and kidney problems, and even the bubonic plague.

SylviusfJust A Spoonful Of Alcohol…

Enterprising doctors figured out that patients were more likely to take their medicine with a drink. So they mixed juniper berries and other botanicals in wine and booze, creating an early but crude form of gin.  It was Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius who, in the mid-1600s, created a recipe of juniper berries and grain alcohol. He called it jenevre. It’s the spirit that evolved into modern-day gin.

Dutch Courage

The Netherlands revolted from Spain during the 80 Years War. British soldiers, who sided with the Dutch, discovered that a drink of gin helped steel them for battle. They called it “Dutch Courage.” They brought gin home with them and spread the word about this new spirit.

Gin Lane, a popular anti-drunkenness poster of 1700s Britain.

Gin Lane, a popular anti-drunkenness poster of 1700s Britain.

Gin Joints

By the 1700s, gin was the most widely consumed fermented beverage in Britain, more popular than beer. Gin was easier and cheaper to produce and buy. Gin joints spread across the land and drunkenness became a serious problem.

Parliament tried to control gin drinking by raising taxes on it, then banning it, and then licensing it. They gave up when people rioted. Because of changing economic conditions gin became too expensive for most Brits by the late 18th century and the problem resolved itself.

Gin Palaces

Gin was reborn in 1800s Britain as a sophisticated spirit and for its use in cocktails. The Gin Joint was replaced by the Gin Palace, glamorous settings where people from all walks of life could enjoy gin in a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Big Sitka Spruce David Fulmer Flickr Creative Commons

A forest of Sitka Spruce on the Central Oregon coast.

Rogue Spruce Gin Is Born

Inspired by the towering forests of Sitka Spruce near our Brewery and Distillery in Newport, Oregon – Rogue Spirits began crafting Spruce Gin.

The recipe includes spruce, juniper berries, ginger, cucumber, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel, grains of paradise, tangerine, angelica root, coriander and Free Range Coastal Water.

We aged some of our gin in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, and Pink Spruce Gin was born.

The GYO Revolution Comes To Gin

Today, Rogue grows our own juniper berries, ginger, cucumber, orris root, angelica root, coriander and other botanicals to flavor our gin in the Revolution Garden at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon.

Growing our own means we have the variety of botanicals we want, and the quality we need, to craft world-class Spruce and Pink Spruce Gin.

Revo Garden

In the Revolution Garden. Left: Watering just planted juniper bushes. Right: An iris. We harvest the rhizomes, also known as orris root, to give our gin its unique aroma.

With all this newly acquired knowledge about gin, it’s time to celebrate with a glass of Spruce Gin or Pink Spruce Gin.

For more information and cocktail recipes, visit Rogue Spirits on the web.

Spirits Line Up Apr 2015



Categories: Spirits

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