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Feeling Under The Weather? Try Some Gin!

Ahhh gin, you zesty, botanical wonder, you. A superfood one might call it. Or...superdrink.

We've all been there, laying in the sunshine with a good old gin and tonic, garnished to the nine with herbs and fruits - but did you know where everyone's favourite spirit came from?

Or more importantly, why it was created?

Believe it or not, gin was once a prescribed medicinal tonic (no, not like the tonic mixer we have today), with its range of botanicals and citruses acting as a remedy for many old-time ailments. The powerhouse behind these medicinal properties is of course the humble juniper berry, used throughout antiquity for everything from purifying air to easing aches and sprains.

During the outbreak of plagues, including the dreaded Black Death, doctors would fill their formidable plague masks with juniper (among other herbs) to clean their air they breathed. Even the Romans understood the benefits, burning the branches for purification during various religious ceremonies. In fact, the name 'gin' is derived from the old Dutch liquor 'Jeneper', which derived its name from the Latin 'juniperus' - or juniper.

See left - an archetypal mask worn by plague doctors during plagues such as the Black Death. Botanicals such as juniper would have been stuffed in the beak-like tip, cleansing the air as our modern day face masks would today.

The effectiveness of this method is questionable, but one fact remains - it would have smelled amazing.

However, after it became popular in England the 17th century, it was soon noticed that this medicine was a little too sort after by the masses, now enjoying it for recreation rather than for healing. Understandable, of course, I know that it would have been my remedy choice (is my current remedy of choice - don't tell my doctor).

When the English government allowed the production of gin without a license, the Great Gin Craze of the 18th century sent its demand skyrocketing. Due its relatively low price, it was not only enjoyed by the wealthy, but was adored by the poor too. The demand and raucous activities soon prompted the government to pass the Gin Act, imposing high taxes on its sales - an act which led to widescale rioting by the ye old scallywags of old.

While our modern sciences have moved away from mysterious tinctures in glass vials, our love for gin hasn't faded over the centuries. In fact, its evolved even further, from the clear spirit, flavoured with basic botanicals and citrus, to a range of unique spirits. A personal favourite of our range is our Shiraz Gin (made with Swan Valley shiraz and tawny), and our Barrel Aged Gin (aged in ex-bourbon barrels).


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