All I want for Christmas is a bottle of gin.
But it’s not just any gin. It’s one conceived by my personal hero Fritz Maytag – Genevieve Gin.
This jumped out at me though:
Genevieve uses a mash of malted wheat, barley and rye, and is distilled in a copper pot still with the same botanicals that appear in Junipero. Since it comes off the still at a lower proof, the spirit bears more resemblance, flavor-wise, to an unaged whiskey…
That London gin is a direct descendant of whiskey is absolutely correct, but something that is often forgotten by those who drink the Beefeaters and Tanquerays of today.
While gin was becoming popular in England in the early 1700′s, whiskey was already an established product. The thing to remember is that whiskey back in those days didn’t mean the aged product we recognize today. Aging didn’t become a codified procedure until the early 20th century.
Instead, whiskey would have been defined as any distilled alcohol that came from ales or beer. In other words, your basic grain alcohol, distilled at probably less than fifty percent alcohol by volume. This process would have been known throughout the British Isles, as it had become a standard farming activity.
While some whiskey was stored and aged in casks, it was just as likely that folks would drink the stuff hot off of the still. And whiskey off the still would have been (and still is) pretty rough stuff to drink, due to several factors, including the composition of the mash, the quality of the still, and the skill of the distiller.
It was quite common for folks to add things to whiskey to make it more palatable. Various herbs, spices, and fruits have been documented in whiskey “recipes”. In England, thanks to influence from the Dutch, juniper was one of the spices typically thrown in.
Over course, this is but a brief overview of both gin and whiskey’s history. The more detailed history of these liquors is even more fascinating.