The Gin Craze

Gin Craze,

Once Gin had become an accessible drink to the working classes of Britain, most specifically in London, a new phenomenon was born…..The first half of the 18th century would be recognised as the Gin Craze Years.

At a time when the most popular drink was French Brandy, Gin was fast becoming a crowd pleaser due to the very political fall out of Britain and France. Gin was infact encouraged to be made and legislation passed to make the import of Brandy difficult. By 1690 the monopoly of the Guild of Distillers was no longer – which effectively opened up the flood gates for gin production, and although this new drink was very popular with aristocratic and wealthy folk, with even Queen Anne rumoured to enjoy a tipple, the looser laws allowed for the phenomenon to turn almost epidemic in terms of drunken people.

With the Governement up in arms over the drinking culture sweeping through London, the very fast flowing gin production was halted. A flurry of legislation and redtape, amongst rising food prices, bad harvests and lower wages managed to slow the Gin Craze to a crawl by 1751 and it is thought to have completely died out by 1757. That was the year that Governement banned the production of spirits using domestic grain.

It is believed the next time Gin had a revival was the Victorian Years, an era of great novelists especially Charles Dickens, who had reportedly referenced alcohol over 200 times in just one of his iconic legacies. The “Gin Palace” phrase was coined, and even now there are references to Dickensian London in the names of current watering holes all over London.

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