Updated: Jul 30, 2022
Gin is a brilliant drink. It continues to become more popular year on year. Originally its medicinal use was uppermost. It’s predecessor (Genever) was the origin of one of my favourite phrases - “Dutch Courage”. In particular, the Dutch military, fighting alongside the British as far back as 1585 in “The Eighty Years War” were noted to take time, in the lead up to battle, to partake of the contents of some well filled hip flasks before fighting. Their noted prowess on the battlefield was well recognised and accordingly the content of such hip flasks was duly identified.
Medicinal uses for the juniper within gin are well documented but gin’s standing in society was soon to take a real dip. Increased popularity of the drink became its downfall and the famous etching of “Gin Lane” by Hogarth is truly horrible on closer inspection…
Rioting, underage (as we would know it) drinking, child abuse (front and centre!) death and antisocial behaviour is easy to see.
By the time the 19th century came along gin palaces came into being and popularity regained.
Much of the additional flavours (what we would now know as “botanicals” were perhaps more to hide the taste of the underlying alcohol.
Enter the “Tonic”. Tonic contains quinine. Rarely do we use quinine in medicine now. It has a fantastic use for those affected by leg cramps at nighttime, but it’s not great for long term usage. However, quinine was (and in the right cases still can be) a truly brilliant treatment for malaria. The military were pretty good at recognising the benefit of using quinine and yet it’s a very bitter pill to swallow - literally - and so there needed to be an enticement for soldiers to take their preventive medicine. So gin was added to the tonic. The rest - as they say, is history….
Malaria is a disease which most of us have heard about - but few of us can appreciate how massive a problem that it still causes to humankind.
Currently it’s all about Corona Virus. Rarely do we see a news post not mentioning this horrible problem. At the time of writing, this disease has killed many people and is affecting our lives massively. This is tragic and our hearts truly go out to those affected by the infection.
However, please be aware that malaria kills 3000 children every day and kills over one million people every year not to mention the 300 million acute illnesses per year that it causes.
It’s not until you have witnessed first hand how badly this illness affects sufferers and how quickly it kills even the fittest of us (not just the medically disadvantaged amongst us) that it becomes obvious how worldwide a problem malaria presents to mankind, yet it seems to go unnoticed. There’s not much malaria in the UK (I helped treat approximately 10% of the total annual malaria cases in UK in 1988 when I admitted 27 cases of Faliciparum malaria to the ward I was working on within a 10 day period - some of whom were badly affected and we had to take over the surgical ward next door to cater for the large numbers (1 house doctor, 1 SHO and 2 consultants with an otherwise full ward) - that was a challenge too!
As a result of this, The Herbal Gin Company is proud to announce an exclusive partnership with Fever Tree to provide the mixers for all our different gins. Fever Tree has been a strong supporter of the Charity “Malaria No More” since 2013 and The Herbal Gin Company hopes to become involved in supporting this charity in months to come.
In posts to come, I look forward to expanding on some medical aspects of gin / alcohol and botanicals. Let’s not forget vodka too - there will be something about that soon too….!