The turbulent history of gin – and where it’s heading next

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45 min listen

The history of gin has seen the drink rise and fall in popularity, and rise and fall in social status.

Initially developed in the Netherlands as a medicine, it was drunk by soldiers there, giving birth to the phrase “Dutch courage”.

It quickly became popular in the UK, and a quirk of the tax system meant it was soon a hugely popular, very alcoholic, extremely cheap drink.

At one point it would cost more to buy a pint of beer than it would to buy a pint of gin.

But that all soon changed and, having once been so abundant that some people received their wages in gin rations, it was eventually taxed so heavily that it was forced underground and a black market for the drink emerged.

In this episode of the Table Talk podcast, we look at the turbulent history of gin and gaze into the future to see what might be in store for the, once again, en vogue tipple.

Find out what defines a gin, how tonic water ended up being so closely associated with it, and why, to this day, you still see images of cats on certain styles of gin.

Discover what is meant by dry gin and how Navy strength gin got its name.

And we try to answer the question: has the gin market peaked?

Beer Street and Gin Lane, Georgian illustrations by William Hogarth

Beer Street and Gin Lane, Georgian illustrations by William Hogarth

Johan Wester, Head Distiller, Hernö Gin Distillery

Johan has been working at Hernö Gin Distillery, Sweden’s first dedicated gin distillery, since 2015.

He is currently the company’s Head Distiller.

Besides distilling and product development, Johan has worked with market activities and communication.

He is a father of two daughters aged 2 and 4.

Hernö was founded in 2011 by Jon Hilligren. Jon had previously been a bartender in England in the 1990s and developed a special interest and passion for the craft.

He came back to the UK and started a distillery and later that year the gin was bought by the government for the municipal stores.

In 2013, Jon decided to enter the gin for an award so he could get a benchmark of how they were doing, they became the most awarded gin in Europe and have been expanding ever since.

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