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What if Gin was born in Italy?

Did you know that the famous English spirit plunges its roots in Italy?

Monday 03 July 2023

On this topic, we had a talk with Federico S. Bellanca, one of the top Italian evangelists on the subject “spirits” (and a columnist for Forbes and Gambero Rosso).

What is the true story of Gin as we know it today?

The ancestor of the modern Gin was invented in 1658, in a pharmacy in Leiden (Netherlands), for curative purposes. It spread then thanks to the India Company, which since the XVI century started to export it to the colonial territories. Another fundamental step in Gin history takes us in England, in late 1600. Gin was immediately a huge success there, but what truly determined its growth took place by the end of the century, when William of Orange prohibited the import of foreign spirits, thus incentivizing the local production.

Why do you think that Gin was actually created in Italy?

Recent findings show that the first Botanical Gin was actually developed in Italy. The evidence is found in an alchemic source dating 1555, written by Alessio Piemontese. Nor only: in Italy already in the XI century, monks used to distill wine, juniper berries and other botanics together, to create a drink with tonic and therapeutic properties.

No wonder, then, if the archetypal Gin was created here, as also demonstrated by the famous Compendium Salernitanum, a medical work dated 1055. Those chapters seem to belong to another era, far back in time, but this tradition still survives, say, in my homeland Tuscany, where Vallombrosa Monastery still produces the homonymous and centuries-old Gin using a recipe and a technique from the past.


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