Women in the History of Gin
In honour of International Women's day, it's important to remember the key women in gin history, and also, the women who are making gin history today!
Mary Stuart is widely regarded as the pioneer of gin in England, as she created a buzz around the spirit by drinking it at court. This was partly due to a shortage of French brandy resulting from the embargo on French imports, which prompted the surge of gin, known as genever at that time. Mary Stuart also legalized gin distillation for everyone who paid excise duty.
Moving on, Queen Anne, who was also a gin enthusiast, attempted to ensure the purity of the distillation process. She proposed a law that restricted the production of gin to individuals within and around Westminster. This led to the emergence of illegal and underground gin distilleries, leading to a humorous sense of equality between genders, as both men and women were allowed to produce and sell gin. Since women were not allowed to drink in the same places as men, gin provided a new opportunity for women to socialize while drinking. While men frequented alehouses, women could drink in markets and the backrooms of stores.
However, the implications of women drinking gin became negative, and the term "Mother's Ruin" was coined, although its origins remain unclear. It may have been related to the use of gin in abortions, as the juniper berry is lethal to fetuses. Alternatively, it may have originated from the infamous artwork known as "Gin Lane," depicting a drunken mother dropping her baby. Regardless, there was widespread hysteria about the impact of gin on women and their morality.
Today, women continue to lead the way in the gin industry, with Dr. Anne Brock, a Ph.D. holder in organic chemistry, serving as the master distiller at Laverstoke Distillery, responsible for producing Bombay and Oxley gins. Natasha Bahrami is the founder of GinWorld, an organisation that aims to spread its knowledge and expertise on gin far and wide. Leslie Gracie, the chemistry genius behind the original Hendricks gin recipe. And so many more women to consider.