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Story of Gin 1495 – world oldest gin recipe

Duff found the recipe in an out-of-print book on Jenever, written in Dutch that tells of the use of grapes for gin, details the distillation method and includes the recipe. Although at the time gin was primarily used for medicinal purposes, the book specifically references the spirit for recreational use and is believed to be the oldest recreational recipe for gin.



“Take a pot (20 litres) of wine or mother of wine,” (this was believed to be wine lees or mas which is used to make grappa so they added Marc de Cognac). “Thin it with clean water or beer, stir until it has the consistency of buttermilk, start to cook and stir until it begins to simmer. Put the pot on. Distil it twice, mix it warm with the botanicals.”

The recipe specifies 12 nutmegs, 4 pounds each of ginger, galangal, seeds of paradise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and the distillate has to be only from wine. “If you want it really good, distil it again with four pounds of crushed nutmeg, 2 handfuls of sage, a pound of cloves and a handful of juniper”. A ratio of nine parts wine distillate to one part botanicals is to be used.

What makes this gin rather unique is that at the time, there was no spice trade in Europe, no citrus or pepper, and the only sweetness was derived from honey and liquorice root. Juniper was also considered exotic so the gin would have been very expensive to produce.

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