The History of Gin in Edinburgh: From Old Town to New

The History of Gin in Edinburgh: From Old Town to New


gin bar in edinburgh

Gin is a spirit with a long and storied history, and Edinburgh has played a hugely important role in its development over the centuries. From the gin palaces of Edinburgh Old Town, to the modern distilleries of the new Town, Edinburgh as a city has been a vast hub of gin production and consumption for centuries. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the history of Gin in Edinburgh, from it’s early days to the present.

Gin's Origins

gin's origins

Gin's exact origins are somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have first been made in the Netherlands in the 16th century. At that time, it was primarily used for medicinal purposes, as it was believed to have properties that could alleviate ailments such as kidney and stomach problems. From the Netherlands, gin made its way to England, where it quickly gained popularity as a cheap and potent alcoholic drink, enjoyed by many.

Gin in Scotland

edinburgh skyline, scotland

Gin arrived in Scotland in the early 18th century, and it quickly became very popular among the working class. At that time, Edinburgh was a thriving port city with close links to the Netherlands, so it's not surprising that gin found a receptive audience here. In fact, gin was so popular that it was known as the "mother's ruin" due to the negative effects it had on families. The government even tried to ban it in the 1720s due to concerns about drunkenness and public disorder. However, this only made gin more popular, and it continued to be produced and consumed in large quantities.

The Gin Craze

the gin craze

The 18th century saw a period known as the "Gin Craze," where gin consumption in the UK skyrocketed. Edinburgh was no exception, and the city was home to a number of gin palaces where people could come and drink to their heart's content. These establishments were often rowdy and raucous, and they were not popular with the authorities. Eventually, the government stepped in and introduced legislation to try and curb the excesses of the Gin Craze. This included the Gin Act of 1751, which introduced higher taxes and stricter regulations on gin production and sales.

Gin Today

gin serving in a modern bar

Today, gin is still a popular drink in Edinburgh, but things have changed significantly since the days of the Gin Craze. There are now a number of distilleries in the city, producing high-quality gin using a range of botanicals. Some of the most popular Edinburgh gins include Edinburgh Gin, Pickering's Gin, and Rock Rose Gin. Visitors to the city can take gin tours and tastings, and there are also a number of gin bars and cocktail lounges where they can enjoy a delicious gin and tonic or other gin-based drinks. Gin Tours are also very popular now in Edinburgh, with many distilleries offering tourists tours.


The history of gin in Edinburgh is a fascinating one, and it's clear that the city has played an important role in the development of this popular spirit. From its medicinal origins in the Netherlands to the Gin Craze in 18th century Edinburgh, gin has had a long and eventful history. Today, Edinburgh is a hub of gin production and consumption, with a thriving gin scene that is well worth exploring.

Want to learn more about the history of Gin in Edinburgh? Why not book onto an Edinburgh gin tour? You’ll even get to enjoy some gin tasting along the way!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published