What’s in a name… Why is gin called ‘Mother’s Ruin’?
Our favourite tipple has gone by many names over the years. Dutch courage, ladies’ delight and knock me down are just a few, but perhaps the most common and widespread of these nicknames is Mother’s Ruin. With Mother’s Day around the corner, we thought there was no better time to explore the origin of this somewhat foreboding pseudonym.
What is the origin of the name ‘Mother’s Ruin’?
The story starts back in the late 1600s, when William of Orange took to the British throne. The Dutch Prince wanted to reduce the amount of French brandy being imported into the country due to a long running feud with France’s king Louis XIV. He needed to make an alternative spirit more accessible to the nation in order to weaken France’s economy, so in 1690, he passed legislation allowing anyone to sell and distil grain spirit (and therefore gin) from their own homes.
From this point until parliament had to intervene with a new Gin Act in 1736, thousands of distilleries popped up all over England, with everyday citizens peddling spirit of dubious quality from their homes, on market stalls, and even in barber shops. At the height of this craze, over 10 million gallons of gin were being distilled in the capital each year, and the average Londoner was drinking 14 gallons per annum!
When the 1736 Gin Act was introduced establishing a retail tax for gin and chargeable annual licenses for its distillers, production and sales went underground. Thus, the already questionable quality of the spirit deteriorated further and there was a frenzy among drinkers to get their fix of their favourite tipple, which was getting harder to come by.
And here we come to the nickname. Much of the excess consumption of gin was done by the poorest women, striving to fend off the cold and the hunger they faced. They would go to any length to get a dram – there are even reports children being sold to pay for a bottle! Thus, the term Mother’s Ruin was coined. Thankfully, nowadays we have much stricter regulations on the quality of spirits!
Celebrate Mother’s Day with 6 O’clock Gin
So there you have it – a not-so-festive story about the not so maternal history of one of gin’s most common nicknames! These days, mothers everywhere enjoy the delicious taste of professionally crafted gin, so why not pick up a bottle of your mum’s favourite tipple in time for Mothering Sunday on 14th March?
Use code TreatingMum when purchasing any 70cl 6 O’clock Gin through our online shop until Saturday 13th March*, and we’ll throw in an extra “lucky dip” gift with your purchase. Possible gifts include 70cl, 35cl and 5cl bottles, RTD cans and our branded 6 O’clock Gin jiggers – now’s the time to treat your mum!
*Please order before 12pm on Wednesday 10th March for delivery in time for Mother’s Day on Sunday 14th March.