Credit for the introduction of the juniper berry into wine in the sixteenth century is given to the Count de Morret, one of the illegitimate sons of Henry IV of France.
The beverage, subsequently known as juniper wine, was found to be pleasing and it led others to try the effect of the berry when added to spirit distilled from fermented liquors.
Previously, ginger, pepper, and other aromatic ingredients had been used. The addition of the juniper berry, however, was found to be far more agreeable, and the older experiments were dropped.
The new beverage became known in France by the name of the berry, genevre (in modern French, genievre). In Holland, where manufacture was largely centered during the following century, the name became genever.
The English, who marketed vast quantities of the liquor, altered this to geneva, after the Swiss city of that name.
It was not long, however, before they shortened the general term Holland geneva into Holland gin in accordance with the customary British penchant for contraction, and this then soon became more commonly further shortened to gin.