Gin recipe from 1495 recreated to expand knowledge

GIN 1495

A gin recipe from 1495 has been re-created by a team of drinks experts to support more understanding and education around the history of the category.

EWG Spirits & Wine, which makes G’vine Gin, has created a limited number of bottles based as closely as possible on the recipe that originated from a Dutch manuscript now in the British Library.

As well as using juniper, the grape-based gin’s botanicals are ginger, galangal, grains of paradise, cloves, cardamom, sage and large amounts of nutmeg – a rare and precious commodity in the late 15th century.

The recipe was originally spotted by drinks expert Philip Duff in an out-of-print Dutch-language history of jenever, the spirit that preceded gin. Its date makes it the oldest-known recipe for “recreational” gin.

The original recipe was in a cookbook of a wealthy merchant in the east Netherlands which was included in the collection of 18th-century British botanist Sir Hans Sloane. After his death in 1753, the manuscripts were part of the original collection of the British Museum and are now in the archives of the British Library.

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, oenologist, master distiller and founder of EWG Spirits & Wine, brought together drinks writers Dave Wondrich, Gary Regan and Dave Broom to work with Philip to determine the recipe.

At EWG Spirits & Wine’s distillery in Villevert in France, the team replicated the original recipe and also created a modern interpretation with Jean-Sébastien.

A limited-edition Gin 1495 pack has been produced containing a bottle of the original-recipe gin, called Verbatim, and the contemporary version of it, called Interpretatio, where the nutmeg has been reduced and the juniper increased.

One of the packs is being auctioned online until December 1, with 100% of the proceeds going to The Benevolent, a charity which supports members of the drinks community in times of need.

Other packs will be donated to museums and other distilleries to support educational activities.

Jean-Sébastien said: “By taking this recipe apart and refreshing it for our modern era, we learnt so much about the long and circuitous journey the spirit has taken through the centuries.

“Gin 1495 is the fundamental expression of our business. It represents a search for knowledge, an insistence on quality, and a reliance on the skills that we draw from our heritage.

“We see the birth of gin, with a wine-based spirit, in 1495 and its rebirth today in 2014. We love the idea of renaissance, of creating the future by understanding the past, of discovery, improvement and the creation of something excellent: this lies at the heart of all of our products.”

The Verbatim gin, at 42% ABV, has an aroma of warm spice, pepper and sage, with a bold spiciness on the palate, leading through to a lavender spice finish.

The Interpretatio, at 45% ABV, has balanced notes of juniper, citrus oil and rich spice on the nose, with a silky, slightly peppery mouth feel and a more temperate spice finish.

Philip said: “The 1495 recipe is not just the first chapter in a rich history of gin – this historic recipe, based on grape distillate, is part of the very foundation of the category.

“With an unrivalled passion and understanding of the grape and vine, I knew that the team at Villevert would investigate this discovery and recreate the original recipe using traditional and authentic techniques and ingredients.”

GIN 1495 Collection

Visit the Gin Guild’s Facebook page for details of the auction. Bids must be made to the Gin Guild only via the Gin Guild’s dedicated auction email address They must contain the bid, in sterling, plus a name and contact telephone number.

The highest bidder received by December 1, 2014 (subject to a minimum reserve) will be contacted by the Guild and payment taken by Visa card. In the event of bidder default, or failure to purchase, the Gin Guild will revert to the next highest bidder.

gin 1495 manuscript

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