Gin - Encyclopedia

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GIN, an aromatized or compounded potable spirit, the characteristic flavour of which is derived from the juniper berry. The word "gin" is an abbreviation of Geneva, both being primarily derived from the Fr. genievre (juniper). The use of the juniper for flavouring alcoholic beverages may be traced to the invention, or perfecting, by Count de Morret, son of Henry IV. of France, of juniper wine. It was the custom in the early days of the spirit industry, in distilling spirit from fermented liquors, to add in the working some aromatic ingredients, such as ginger, grains of paradise, &c., to take off the nauseous flavour of the crude spirits then made. The invention of juniper wine, no doubt, led some one to try the juniper berry for this purpose, and as this flavouring agent was found not only to yield an agreeable beverage, but also to impart a valuable medicinal quality to the spirit, it was generally made use of by makers of aromatized spirits thereafter. It is probable that the use of grains of paradise, pepper and so on, in the early days of spirit manufacture, for the object mentioned above, indirectly gave rise to the statements which are still found in current textbooks and works of reference as to the use of Cayenne pepper, cocculus indices, sulphuric acid and so on, for the purpose of adulterating spirits. It is quite certain that such materials are not used nowadays, and it would indeed, in view of modern conditions of manufacture and of public taste, be hard to find a reason for their use. The same applies to the suggestions that such substances as acetate of lead, alum or sulphate of zinc are employed for the fining of gin.

There are two distinct types of gin, namely, the Dutch geneva or hollands and the British gin. Each of these types exists in the shape of numerous sub-varieties. Broadly speaking, British gin is prepared with a highly rectified spirit, whereas in the manufacture of Dutch gin a preliminary rectification is not an integral part of the process. The old-fashioned Hollands is prepared much after the following fashion. A mash consisting of about one-third of malted barley or here and two-thirds ryemeal is prepared, and infused at a somewhat high temperature. After cooling, the whole is set to ferment with a small quantity of yeast. After two to three days the attenuation is complete, and the wash so obtained is distilled, and the resulting distillate (the low wines) is redistilled, with the addition of the flavouring matter (juniper berries, &c.) and a little salt. Originally the juniper berries were ground with the malt, but this practice no longer obtains, but some distillers, it is believed, still mix the juniper berries with the wort and subject the whole to fermentation. When the redistillation over juniper is repeated, the product is termed double (geneva, &c.). There are numerous variations in the process described, wheat being frequently employed in lieu of rye. In the manufacture of British gin,' a highly rectified spirit (see Spirits) is redistilled in the presence of the flavouring matter (principally juniper and coriander), and frequently this operation is repeated several times. The product so obtained constitutes the "dry" gin of commerce. Sweetened or cordialized gin is obtained by adding sugar and ' The precise origin of the term "Old Tom," as applied to unsweetened gin, appears to be somewhat obscure. In the English case of Boord & Son v. Huddart (1903), in which the plaintiffs established their right to the "Cat Brand" trade-mark, it was proved before Mr Justice Swinfen Eady that this firm had first adopted about 1849 the punning association of the picture of a Tom cat on a barrel with the name of "Old Tom"; and it was at one time supposed that this was due to a tradition that a cat had fallen into one of the vats, the gin from which was highly esteemed. But the term "Old Tom" had been known before that, and Messrs Boord & Son inform us that previously "Old Tom" had been a man, namely "old Thomas Chamberlain of Hodge's distillery"; an old label book in their possession (1909) shows a label and bill-head with a picture of "Old Tom" the man on it, and another label shows a picture of a sailor lad on shipboard described as "Young Tom." flavouring matter (juniper, coriander, angelica, &c.) to the dry variety. Inferior qualities of gin are made by simply adding essential oils to plain spirit, the distillation process being omitted. The essential oil of juniper is a powerful diuretic, and gin is frequently prescribed in affections of the urinary organs.

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