by Sam Bilton on August 14, 2018 No comments

What is the essence of the book?

Unless you have been stuck in a temperance bubble for the past decade, you must have noticed the rising popularity of gin. Gone are the days of it leading to ‘mother’s ruin’ with gin now being embraced by hipsters and more mature clientele alike. Gin is very much ‘it’ right now.

Tina Brown’s book gives a quick run through of this spirit’s history from its early medicinal use to treat the symptoms of the plague to the glory days of the roaring 20s. A large proportion of the book is devoted to short biographies of modern artisan gin distillers whose innovate approach is helping make gin more popular than ever.

About the author

Tina Brown is a Sussex resident like myself. She runs a bespoke tour guide business and a street theatre which she researches, writes and produces herself.

Who will like it?

Anyone with a penchant for gin who would perhaps like to learn a bit more about its history. This book could be a great ‘stocking filler’ with Christmas approaching (yes, yes I know it’s only August but it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of pressie ideas up your sleeve, does it?).

Who won’t like it?

If you’re a mother, or any other appropriately aged adult, who feels they have been ‘ruined’ by too much indulgence in this liquor then you probably won’t have much interest in this book.

What do I like about the book?

Being a creature of habit, I’m naturally drawn to the history element of this book. I love the way authors like Brown unpick age old sayings to reveal their origins. Take ‘Dutch courage’ for example.  Brown writes:

“ It is believed that English soldiers who were fighting in Antwerp against the Spanish in 1585, during the Eighty Years War, were partaking in genever as it had calming properties and helped many before embarking on war, giving them the courage to go forth and fight.

I find these snippets of information fascinating and came away feeling more informed about a drink I love after reading Gin.

Is there anything I’m not so keen on?

Personally, I’d have liked the historical section of the book explored in more detail. That said, I can see how useful this book could be if you wanted to research some of the more unusual gin makers such as Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin or Zufanek Distillery in the Czech Republic.

Where can you buy it?

Gin: An Illustrated History by Tina Brown (Amberley Books, £13.49)


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