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The Origins of Mother’s Ruin

Gin Lane

Our favourite tipple has been known as “mother’s ruin” for hundreds of years. Nobody knows exactly why it was given this fateful name but here are some of the most intriguing stories we could find:


In the late 1600s, Dutch Prince William of Orange took the British throne. In order to reduce the amount of French brandy being imported into the country (Orange had a large feud with France during his reign), our new King created legislation that allowed anyone to distil and sell gin in their homes. This lead to thousands of gin distilleries popping up all over England between the years of 1695-1735.

As great as this sounds, it actually caused a lot of problems, some of which are rumoured to be the origins of the phrase “Mother’s Ruin”’…


Antique Gin Bottles



  1. Impoverished woman would drink cheap “bathtub” gin to forget their troubles. This often led to child neglect – with some women even selling their children to get their hands on a bottle of the poorest quality gin!
  2. Gin was apparently used as a contraceptive by some of the lower classes (Please don’t try this at home!)
  3. As Gin was considered to have medicinal properties, women were allowed to drink among men for the first time. As you can imagine, at the levels gin was being consumed, this lead to some promiscuous behaviour and poor decision making.
  4. A pint of Gin and a very hot bath was commonly considered a “cure” for pregnancy (Again, do NOT try this at home!)
  5. The availability of unregulated, poor quality gin, combined with ludicrously high consumption levels lead to many men and women becoming sterile. Records from the time state that the average Londoner as drinking 10 gallons a year. This was so common that at one stage the death rate in London was higher than the birth rate.


Lucky for us, modern-day legislation means that all gins distilled in the UK are now of the highest possible quality. Easy access to botanicals from all over the world, alongside huge advancements in technology have driven gin innovation. Today gin is a drink to be savoured and enjoyed.

If you’d like to know more about the history of gin and other cool gin facts, pick up a copy of Juniper Magazine in your local supermarket, newsagent or online at https://www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/juniper-gin-bookazine.html