Gordon’s Gin

Click “Read More” for the transcript, but watch the video first.

Man: Look at that.  Clear as a hermit’s diary, crisp as a vicar’s laundry.  

Woman: Mmm.  Anything else at this time would be wrong.

Man:  Mmm.  Like a Monday roast.

Woman: Or cherries at Wimbledon.

Man: Quiche at half time.

Woman: Asparagus in November.

Man: Blue carpet at a premiere.

Woman: Trainers at a dinner party.

Voiceover:  Gordon’s.  Shall we get started?

!Note - Gordon's is a brand of London Dry gin, an alcoholic drink produced in the United Kingdom.  The brand is owned by the multi-national alcohol company Diageo Plc.

It was developed in London in 1769 by Scotsman Alexander Gordon, who opened a distillery in the Southwark area, later moving in 1786 to Clerkenwell. The Special London Dry Gin he developed proved very successful, and its recipe remains unchanged to this day.
Triple-distilled, the gin contains juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root and one other botanicals, but the actual recipe for Gordon's is known to only twelve people in the world and has been kept a secret for 250 years. In the UK, Gordon's is sold in a distinctive green glass bottle; in all other markets it is sold in the original clear bottle design. Some select airport duty free shops sell it in plastic bottles in the 75cl size.

Gin became popular in England after the government allowed unlicensed gin production and at the same time imposed a heavy duty on all imported spirits. This created a market for poor-quality grain that was unfit for brewing beer, and thousands of gin-shops sprang up throughout England, a period known as the Gin Craze. By 1740, the production of gin had increased to six times that of beer, and because of its price, it became popular with the poor.

Of the 15,000 drinking establishments in London, over half were gin shops. Beer maintained a healthy reputation as it was often safer to drink the brewed ale than unclean plain water. Gin, though, was blamed for various social and medical problems, and it may have been a factor in the higher death rates which stabilized London's previously growing population. The reputation of the two drinks was illustrated by William Hogarth in his engravings Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751).

This negative reputation survives today in the English language, in terms like "gin mills" or "gin joints" to describe disreputable bars or "gin-soaked" to refer to drunks, and in the phrase "mother's ruin," a common British name for gin.

The Gin Act 1736 imposed high taxes on retailers and led to riots in the streets. The prohibitive duty was gradually reduced and finally abolished in 1742. The Gin Act 1751 was more successful, as it forced distillers to sell only to licensed retailers and brought gin shops under the jurisdiction of local magistrates. Gin in the 18th century was produced in pot stills, and was somewhat sweeter than the London gin known today.

In London in the early 18th century, gin sold on the black market was prepared in illicit stills (of which there were 1,500 in 1726), and was often adulterated with turpentine and sulfuric acid. As late as 1913, Webster's Dictionary states without further comment, " 'common gin' is usually flavored with turpentine", which is probably why we often call cheap alcohol "paint stripper".