Origins of gin are from the Netherlands (or possibly Italy) in the 17th C. Its base was initially formulated as a medicine of white spirit and juniper berries which was called Genever. It was said to be a treatment for stomach ailments, gall stones and gout.
This ‘medicine’ evolved during the ‘30 Years War’ (1618-1648) as a ‘pick me up’ and as we were allies of the Dutch against the French and Spanish our English soldiers soon developed a taste for this drink before battle, leading to the term ‘Dutch Courage’.
The English soldiers brought this Genever back with them to London and the word was trimmed down in slang to ‘Gin’.
The Dutch connection continued as William of Orange (William 3rd) became king and banned French Brandy, put levies on other European imports and encouraged local distillation.
Any man, woman or child could now distil gin and the popularity grew to epidemic proportions with London alone said to consume half a million gallons by 1690.
This problem continued as gin was cheaper than beer (due to tax) and safer than water!