Tranquebar Gin – The History

  • According to sources from Belgium, ‘jenevers’ were already being produced in the 1200s in the region which we now call Holland and Flanders – the northern part of Belgium. This was a strong type of spirit made from junipers.

    1200s
  • A Dutch brewer produces a jenever based on those spices which the Dutch East India Company takeshome from the East. Tranquebar Gin is based on this recipe. ‘Jenever’ is the Dutch word for juniper.

    1616
  • March: The DanishEast India Company is established after the Dutch model with the Danish King Christian IV as its principal investor and lender.

  • November: The East India Company sends anexpedition with a fleet of five ships with the naval ship ‘Elefanten’ at the helm on course to East India to establish a Danish trading colony.

    1618
  • The expedition reaches Tharangambadi in Southeast India, where the local ruler gives the Danes permission to establish a colony. The name is changed to the more Danish Tranquebar. The leader of the expedition, Ove Giedde,gives orders to erect a fort, Dansborg.

    1620
  • Dansborg is completed.

    1622
  • There are now long intervals between the Danish ships that arrive atTranquebar. This marks the start of the first demise.

    1630
  • Willem Leyel is appointed director of the Danish East India Company.

    1635
  • Willem Leyel arrives in Tranquebar as the new governor, where he finds everything in a state of ‘hopeless ruin’.

    1640
  • Not one solitary Danish shiphas docked atTranquebar in five years. Many Portuguese have taken up residence in the town after having been thrown out of the colony Porto Novo. Many of thePortuguese are employed there by the Danish state as soldiers and public officials.

    1645
  • The first DanishEast India Companyis dissolved due to lack of funds.

    1650
  • Construction of the city walls around Tranquebar, which are paid for by the Danish king. The Danish king attempts to sell Tranquebar to thePrince-elect of Brandenburg for 120,000 rigsdaler, but the Prince-elect cannot pay.

    1651
  • Eskild Andersen, who came to Tranquebar as an ordinary sailor, is appointed as its governor.

    1655
  • For almost 10 years, not a single word has been heard from Tranquebar in Denmark and the assumption there is that the colony is lost – presumably overtaken by the Dutch, who expanded rapidly in the region in that time. A letter from Eskild Andersen that year however reaches the Danish king and makes Danes aware that the colony does, in fact, still exist.

    1668
  • The secondEast India Company is founded and obtains exclusive rights toall Danish trade in East India (Asia).

    1670
  • The last 30 years of the 1600s mark Tranquebar’s first golden age. Two large ships arrive annually from Denmark and trade is now thriving.

    1670-1700
  • The Great Northern WarhitsEast India trade hard.

    1700-1721
  • The word ‘gin’, derived from the word ‘jenever’, appears in an English-language book for the first time.

    1714
  • The second East India Company goes bankrupt and is dissolved.

    1729
  • The Asiatic Company is founded – by the same circle of investorswho were behind the second East India Company.

    1730
  • The Danish king grants the Asiatic Company the same privileges as theEast India Company had – includingpossession of Tranquebar and 40 years’exclusive rights to Danish trade with East India.

    1732
  • Tranquebar’s second golden age. The principal goods arewood, cotton and spices.

    1750-1772
  • The Asiatic Company loses its exclusive trading rights in East India.

    1772
  • The Asiatic Company relinquishes Tranquebar and transfers ownership of the colony to the Danish king. The company then obtains exclusive rights to trade with China, and over the subsequent years, the company trades almost exclusively with tea from the ‘Middle Kingdom’.

    1777
  • The lack of trade compels residents to leave Tranquebar. Foreigners are offered Danish citizenship in return for remaining in Tranquebar.

    1793
  • Despite the fact that Tranquebar’s time as a trading station is drawing to a close, the Asiatic Company continues to earn good money for its shareholders. Over this 20-year period, their stock offers an average dividend of 40 percent annually.

    1786-1806
  • The British-Danish Wars, including the two major Battles of Copenhagen in 1801 and 1807 respectively, were to be the fatal blows for the Asiatic Company. As if it wasn’t enough that Britain had conquered the Danish fleet, it also entirely outcompeted Denmark and other countries in Southeast Asia.

    1807-1814
  • The Asiatic Company gets its final newly built ship. It has four batteries of cannons, to be used in the war against Britain.

    1808
  • Great Britain conquers Tranquebar.

    1808
  • Tranquebar is returned to Denmark as part of the Treaty of Kiel that concludes the British-Danish Wars. (the British Warswere part of the European Napoleonic Wars, where Denmark, due to a British attack on Copenhagen, was forced into an alliance with France and Napoleon.)

    1814
  • The Asiatic Company loses its final privileges and no longer hasexclusive rights to trade with China.

    1839
  • TheAsiatic Company is dissolved.

    1843
  • The declining Tranquebar is sold to Great Britain for just over 1 million rigsdaler. The last Danish governor, Peder Hansen, is given the questionable honour of being witness to theDannebrog flag being loweredfor the final timeover Dansborg on 7 November 1845.

    1845
  • At the start of the British era, Tranquebar was still an active trading port, but once the neighbouring port, Nagapattinam, 25 miles south of Tranquebar became the end station for the local railway network, it marked the beginning of the end for Tranquebar as a trading port.

    1845-1947
  • The East Asiatic Company – shortened in Danish to ØK – is founded by the Danish Councillor of State H.N. Andersen.

    1897
  • The Danish Royal Family’s close centuries-long connections to the great trade companies are reinforced when Prince Axel takes over the directorship of ØK. He is the son of Prince Valdemar and the grandchild of Christian IX.

    1934-1953
  • ØK is Denmark’s largest company measured by turnover.

    1970
  • The link between the trading fleet in the East and the Danish Royal Family is confirmed yet again with A.P. Møller Mærsk’s appointment of Prince Joachim in its Hong Kong office.

    1993-1995
  • After having being produced for many years, the brand Tranquebar Gin becomes officially separate and gets its own trademark.

    2002
  • Tranquebar Colonial Gin is introduced.

    2004
  • Tranquebar Christmas Spiced Gin is launched.

    2007
  • Danish A.H. Riise Spirits buys Tranquebar Gin and its brand. A.H. Riise is best known as a producer of rum, a production that began in another Danish colony, namely the Danish West Indian Islands.

    2016
  • Tranquebar Royal Danish Navy Gin is introduced. This is the first gin which A.H. Riise Spirits has been responsible for launching.

    2016
  • In a major gin test undertaken for Danish daily Ekstra Bladet, Tranquebar Christmas Spiced Gin is awarded four stars and placed in the category ‘Best buy’.

    2017
  • Tranquebar Christmas Spiced Gin is awarded the title ofbest compound gin in Europe outside of the UK at the Gin Guide Awards. A compound gin is a gin to which a flavour has been added, for example spices or berries.

    2018
  • Tranquebar Gin begins its 400th anniversary celebrations of the founding of Tranquebar with the launch of Tranquebar 400th Anniversary Gin. Bottle number 1 will be presented to Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark – the successor of Christian IV, who was the king behind founding the colony.

    2018

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