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15th century gin heads to auction

A French spirits company has recreated a gin recipe from 1495 as part of a limited edition set, one of which will be auctioned in aid of UK drinks charity The Benevolent.

EWG Spirits & Wine, which specialises in spirits derived from grapes and produces the G’Vine gin brand, decided to craft a similarly grape-based gin from a recipe discovered in an old Dutch cook book.

Unearthed by gin expert Philip Duff in the British Library, the recipe features a host of botanicals, many of which would have been expensive, exotic ingredients at the time, including ginger, galangal, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, grains of paradise, nutmeg, sage and juniper.

Duff then worked in partnership with Cognac-based EWG, together with a team of spirits experts, historians and mixologists that included David Wondrich, Dave Broom and Gary Regan, to recreate the original gin, which has been called Verbatim.

A second gin called Interpretatio, described as “a modern interpretation” and featuring more juniper and citrus notes, has been produced alongside Verbatim to create a limited edition set.

Introducing the project, EWG founder Jean-Sebastien Robicquet commented: “By taking this recipe apart and refreshing it for our modern era, we will learn so much more about the long and circuitous journey the spirit has taken through the centuries.”

He summed up the 1495 gin as “the fundamental expression of our business,” adding: “It represents a search for knowledge, an insistence on quality, and a reliance on the skills that we draw from our heritage.”

While most of the 100 sets are destined for museums and collections, EWG has donated one to be auctioned by the Gin Guild in aid of The Benevolent this month.

After tasting the “extraordinary” product, Nicholas Cook, director general of the Gin Guild remarked: “To have tried a liquor drink which, by the very recipe was the precursor of both gin and genever, dating from 1495 and which, by its very ingredients, was or would have been at the time an unimaginable luxury and hugely expensive product, clearly made for someone of great wealth and status, was an exceptional treat”.

The Benevolent CEO David Cox welcomed the donation as “a testament to the innate generosity of the spirits trade and a wonderful example of how a company can use their product to make a real difference to their community.”

Thanking EWG and the Gin Guild, Cox added: “We would like to encourage other companies to be similarly generous with their support of their trade charity.”

Anyone wishing to place a bid can do so until 1 December by contacting the Gin Guild’s dedicated auction email address: The message must contain the bid in UK sterling, as well as a name and contact telephone number.

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