When GG appeared on the scene, he was a whisky man, but I soon converted him to G&T. I have read several articles recently espousing the health benefits of Gin so I set myself the task of researching if there was any truth at all behind the claims or was it more ’Fake News’.
Gin dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was used as a herbal medicine, and King William III, a Dutchman who became King of England in 1689, encouraged the drinking of Gin.
The word Gin was taken from the French word genievre and the Dutch jenever, both of which mean juniper, the plant used by distillers of the era to make medicines for apothecaries.
The most common botanicals used in the production of Gin are:
Spices: juniper, cardamom, liquorice, caraway seed, grains of paradise, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise seed, cassia bark, orris root, ginger and saffron
Herbs: coriander and angelica
Fruit and nuts: lemon, orange, grapefruit and almonds
Each producer of Gin has its own secret mixture of these ingredients, which is a trademark of its brand. The most popular way to drink Gin is with tonic – another medicinal recommendation from the era when the British ruled India and used it as a way to prevent malaria because tonic contains quinine. I guess you would need to drink a lot of G&Ts to be guaranteed remaining malaria-free.
The main ingredient is juniper berries, a Northern Hemisphere shrub, and it well documented that these berries are eaten by sheep and that they can both prevent and cure dropsy in the animals.
But what about humans, I hear you say. Well, let’s examine the juniper berries themselves which are packed full of health benefits, such as:
- 1. They help fight against infection.
- 2. Also helps reduce the risk of heart attacks because they contain flavonoids which help prevent clogged arteries. They can help increase circulation and maintain vascular health.
- 3. Full of anti-oxidants, they help the fight against wrinkles. Yes.
- 4. They are used to help ease pain of arthritis and rheumatism. So that’s good.
- 5. The berries have a natural diuretic effect and help flush toxins out of the system and ease bloating. I am all for that.
- 6. You can dispense with your Vicks and have a gin instead, as it is supposed to clear congestion and improve breathing.
- 7. It is relatively low in calories 97 seemingly.
- 8. If you are diabetic it is one of the best drinks for you as there are only traces of sugar.
- 9. Your digestive system will thank you as the berries increase enzymes.
So, if Gin is made from juniper berries, ergo, GIN is good for you!
Gin was often called Mother’s Ruin, but I prefer the evidence that points to the fact that it can actually reduce anxiety and improve your overall mood.
I also used it over thirty years ago to help with pain in my back, when I was confined to bed with a disc problem. Painkillers on their own did not work. I was unable to sit up and unable to sleep. So, I used to lie in bed, sucking the gin out of the stylist daughter’s bottle (she was 18 months old at the time!) complete with teat. I can attest to the fact that it eased the pain. My poor mother was worried I would become addicted to painkillers or gin or both. I didn’t.
In recent years, I have been introduced to different brands and while there is nothing wrong with Gordon’s or Bombay Sapphire, I must say that I love all the newer gins on the market and have several new favourites. Although I certainly still use Schweppes, I have progressed on to the newer tonics also. No two G&Ts taste the same anymore and it is like coming to a new drink every time. My current favourites are Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish Gin, Loch Measc Gin from Mayo and Minke Gin made in West Cork.
When out for dinner or away on a break, we like to sample a new gin. Above, you can see two ShortCross gins from County Down (one with elderflower tonic), awaiting us on the bar at Mount Wolseley. Accompanied with strawberries and mint, I can assure you they were delightful.
It goes without saying that all alcohol should be taken in moderation.
Julia Child claimed that the key to her long and healthy life (she died aged 91) were red meat and gin. I am not that big into red meat, so I think I will have to up my intake of gin!
This post was first published in 2017 and my love affair with gin continues. I was prompted to revisit it when I read the wonderful Roisin Ingle’s column in The Irish Times Newspaper over a week ago. Most people try to give up alcohol in January, but Roisin is a woman after my own heart. She made it part of her daily routine. Lockdown and January together are tough enough. Now before you get too excited, it is one gin, albeit it is nearly every evening.
It is my one weakness!
And Hello February.