1902 Encyclopedia > Gin


GIN, the name commonly given to an aromatized spirit for drinking, varieties of which are also known as Geneva, Hollands, and Schiedam. Gin is an abbreviation of Geneva, both being primarily derived from the French genievre (juniper), from the fact that the characteristic flavouring ingredient of the spirit is juniper berries. Gin was origin-ally and is still largely a Dutch compounded liquor, but it has long been a favourite stimulant beverage with the lower orders in London and other large English towns; and it is manufactured on a great scale by English rectifiers. As each separate distiller varies to some extent the materials and proportions of ingredients used in the preparation of gin, the varieties of the beverage are numerous; but gene-rally a clear distinction exists between Hollands or Dutch gin and English gin. In the manufacture of Hollands a mash is prepared consisting of say 112 lb of malted here or bigg and 228 lb of rye meal, with 460 gallons of water, at 162° Fahr. After infusion a proportion of cold water is added; and when the heat is reduced to about 80°, the whole, about 500 gallons, is run into the fermenting vat, to which about half a gallon of yeast is added. Fermentation speedily ensues, and in about two days the attenuation is complete, although at this stage nearly one-third of the saccharine matter in the liquor is undecomposed. The special features of the fermentation are the small proportion of yeast employed and the imperfect attenuation of the worts. The wash so obtained is distilled, and the resulting low wine is redistilled, with the addition of juniper berries and a little salt, sometimes with the addition of hops. Dutch gins vary much one from another, but generally they are much purer and mellower liquors than the more highly flavoured and frequently adulterated British gins. Good qualities of the latter have as their basis plain grain spirit from the ordinary whisky distilleries, the following being an example of a mixture for distillation :—

300 gallons of low wines.
47 lb crushed almond cake.
650 gallons rectified spirit
2 angelica root.
95 lb juniper berries.
6 lb powdered liquorice.
95 lb corianders.

There is, however, much variation in the ingredients employed, and several other flavouring substances—notably cardamoms and cassia or cinnamon—are freely employed. A kind of gin is also prepared by mixing proportions of essential oils by agitation with plain spirits without any redistillation, and much inferior liquor is said to be made with oil of turpentine and aromatic substances without the use of juniper berries at all. To prevent the cloudiness or turbidity that would arise in these inferior beverages when mixed with water, they are fined with alum, potassium car-bonate, acetate of lead, or sulphate of zinc. To give facti-tious pungency and mellowness to such drinks, grains of paradise and Cayenne pepper are freely used, and the absence of spirit is also covered by the use of sugar. What is known as cordial gin is usually more highly aromatized than the other varieties, and sweetened so that it really ought to be classed as a coarse liqueur. In thirty-eight specimens of gin examined by Dr Hassall, the alcoholic strength of which ranged from 22'35 to 48'80 degrees, and the sugar present varied between 2'43 and 9'38 per cent, seven were found to contain Cayenne pepper, two had cinnamon or cassia oil, and nearly all contained sulphates. From the fact that the essential oil of juniper is the most powerful of all diuretics, gin is frequently prescribed in diseases of the urinary organs. Its beneficial effects in such cases is most marked; but, on the other hand, the grossly sophisticated liquors which are largely consumed under the name of gin are most detrimental in their effects. In the early part of the 18th century gin-shops multiplied with great rapidity in London, and the use of the beverage increased to an extent so demoralizing that retailers actually exhibited placards in their windows intimating that there people might get drunk for Id., and that clean straw in comfortable cellars would be provided for customers. The legislature was obliged to interfere in order to try to curb the tide of debauchery, and what is known as the Gin Act was passed in 1736, under the provisions of which, dealers were prohibited from selling gin and other spirits in quanti-ties less than 2 gallons without a licence of £50, and an excise duty of 20s. was charged on each gallon. The opera-tion of the Act, however, gave rise to much confusion, to illicit trade, and to gin riots, and after a lapse of seven years the statute was repealed.

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