First Gin in History - History and curiosities

Gin Bruni Collin’s España


The first gin in history

La primera ginebra de la historia

Did you know that gin is often associated with Britain? This is because in addition to being consumed a lot, it is the country that owns the most famous and awarded brands of this distillate. Even so, the truth is that the first steps were taken by the Dutch in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Below we explain where the first gin in history came from.

At Bruni Collin’s we want you to know first-hand the origin of the first gin in history. In this way, you can tell your friends in your next meeting how this famous distillate was born, used in hundreds of cocktails.

Who were the creators of the first gin?

The first records of the preparation of gin go hand in hand with Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch professor of medicine looking for a drug capable of relieving diuretic problems. Sylvius’ experiment where he macerated juniper berries with alcohol was done in the mid-16th century.

Even the name of this distillate is a deformation of the Dutch word Genever or Jenever, meaning juniper. These berries contain healing properties and also give a distinctive flavor to gin.

By 1575, Lucas Bols had the great idea of making a distillation process to the Sylvius macerates to bottle them and place them on sale under the name of gin.

But why did the need arise to distill Professor Sylvius’ experiment?

Due to the cold climate in the Netherlands it was impossible to harvest grapes to make wine. In addition, bringing it fromother countries made the product very expensive, so the need arose to investigate how to distill alcohols thanks to cereals fermentation. The problem was that it didn’t taste good, so they started adding aromas, just like the professor did in his medicinal preparation.

Which was the first brand?

The first gin brand belongs to Lucas Bols, who applied the distillation method with Sylvius’ recipe and created the first bottled gin. With it the first brand was born and gin officially as an alcoholic drink.  

The Bols house has been producing its recipe since 1575. But they have not been the only ones producing gin for more than three centuries. Wenneker was established in 1693 and was followed by Johannes de Kuyper in 1695, Booth in 1740 and Alexander Gordon in 1769.

Why is it popularly believed that England pioneered gin production?

This distillate was brought to Britain by soldiers who were sent to battle during the Independence of the Dutch and they discovered the Dutch Courage.

That’s what they called gin: a strong drink that gave the Dutch the courage to go out to the battlefield. But success in England came when William III of Orange took power in 1689. This government practically forced its citizens to distill gin by themselves.  

William III banned the importation of the distillate from Holland, and imposed heavy taxes on French cognac, which left the English without options. While banning foreign alcohol, he promoted domestic production. The success was such that there was a shortage of gin, because it was not enough with the demand inthe street.

It went from being a soldering iron drink to a very refined one.

In 1830, Charles Tanqueray created in Finsbury the emblematic brand, thanks to a process that was purer than that performed at home by most English. But it was not until 1895 that James Burrough created the formula that consecrated the term London Dry Gin, with its product called Beefeater.

You may also be interested in reading History of gin.

Remember that at Bruni Collin’s we can offer you a distilled bottle of premium gin, which standards belong to the best of the industry.