Listed as a gin palace as far back as 1829, the Princess Victoria in Shepherds Bush is keeping the spirit of its former vocation alive. Representing the new wave of bars and pubs which promote craft gin and thoughtful flavours, the team at the Princess Victoria create infusions on the premises using homegrown herbs and their own pocket sized still. We spoke to bar manager Adam Smith about the increasing popularity of craft gin and how one goes about the distilling process. Today’s flavour? Tea: ‘There’s nothing more British than Earl Grey tea and gin!’
Tell us a bit more about the current popularity of gin
It’s a great resurgence - some people have actually said it’s probably the beginnings of the second London gin craze.
You're talking about the gin craze back in the 18th century?
Yeah, the first gin craze was 1727 - 1757, and it basically nearly destroyed England. It’s because gin was such a bad product at that point, there was no regulation, nothing at all. Anyone could make it - and anyone did make it! It was recorded that 8 out of 10 hospitable buildings had a gin still in them, and were distilling. Eventually the government started to crack down, and made the Gin Acts. Over the course of fifty years these basically quelled the production of gin. One of the last gin acts to be passed made the minimum still size 1800 litres, making gin inaccessible to smaller producers. That ended the London gin craze.