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Gin There, Done That: The History of Gin in the UK

by Kaitlin Graham 10 Jul 2023

Gin is the drink of choice for Brits all across the UK. So, how did gin become so popular, and why is it still?

Bartender making gin and tonic in a long cut crystal glass on a dark wood bar

During the 17th century, England’s King William the III, a.k.a William of Orange, began a trade war with France. Taxes on wine, brandy, and cognac from France skyrocketed. 

As the trade war was happening, William the III initiated tax breaks on spirit production, which became known as The Corn Laws. Just like that, the “Gin Craze” era began. For years, gin was cheaper than beer. 

In the 1730s, the London Frost Fairs brought a new way to enjoy gin. Stalls would sell hot gin and gingerbread to warm up crowds strolling the River Thames. 

The Gin Craze continued until the government noticed that it was going too far. People were overconsuming gin. Plus, the lack of oversight allowed distillers to add whatever they wanted to their gin, including dangerous ingredients like turpentine, sawdust, and sulphuric acid. 

In 1736, distillers were required to pay £50 for a distiller's license. This drastically reduced the amount of gin produced because most distillers couldn’t afford a license. 

The gin scene declined until the 1830s, when a new distilling process was introduced. It produced a clearer spirit and people started turning to gin again. 

Today, gin is mainly used in carefully crafted cocktails. Our Monkey Hanger gin features tasting notes of elderflower, Turkish rose and liquorice and is perfect for a classic gin & tonic or gin martini. 


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