The Danish East India Company
The story of Tranquebar Gin began in late 1615, when two resident Danish merchants, Jan de Willum from Amsterdam and Herman Rosenkrantz from Rotterdam, contacted King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway with a proposal to set up a trading company which would focus on trade with the Far East, in particular India, along the lines of the Dutch West India company (VOC).
Willum and Rosenkrantz were given exclusive privileges by the king for the establishment of the Danish East India Company on March 17, 1616.
The main base of the Company was the Danish-bought colony of Tranquebar, which was acquired in 1620.
On November 29, 1618 the first expedition, which comprised a fleet of five ships, under the command of Admiral Ove Gjedde, set sail for India.
After a gruelling voyage, in May 1619 the fleet reached the island of Ceylon.
Subsequently, Gjedde bought the city Tranquebar (Trangambardi), located on the Coromandel Coast of south-eastern India.
Payment for the purchase of the city was in the form of 12 cannon.
The Company established a trading post in Tranquebar and Fort Dansborg was built to protect the city.
The Danish East India Company bought spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and nutmeg, as well as cotton textiles, tea, silk, ebony and the blue dye indigo.
In the colony’s heyday in the late 1700s, there were over 200 Europeans stationed in Tranquebar, and the city served as the hub for all Danish trade in India, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Persia.
In the early 1800s, Danish trade in the region diminished, while the war against England dealt the Danish fleet a severe blow.
On November 7, 1845 the renowned expedition ship Galathea visited Tranquebar, and at an official ceremony, the ship’s captain Steen Bille, lowered the Danish flag at Fort Dannebrog for the last time as the trading post had been sold to the British East India Company.
With the introduction of many new and exotic spices to Denmark by the Danish Indian Company’s ships , Jan de Willum was inspired to create a new version of the traditional genever, which his family had produced at their distillery in Amsterdam.
Today’s Tranquebar Colonial Gin is based on this original recipe from the Jan de Willums’ family archive.
Just as in the 16th century, Tranquebar Gin is still distilled in Holland, now in the genever capital, SCHIEDAM, where the famous Royal Dirkzwager Distillery was founded in 1879th
The flavour of Tranquebar Gin is that of a classic colonial gin, with the warm, full-bodied, soft spicy flavours of juniper, cardamom and cinnamon, combined with a fresh breath of orange and citrus.
The recipe also remains the same, and aside from the classic gin herbs of juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel and angelica, Tranquebar Gin contains additional exotic flavours from cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and Darjeeling tea, all from East India.
Our “Master Distiller” Michael Schultz, distils and bottles Tranquebar Gin in small batches, with each bottle given an individual number and vintage date stamp.
The Dutch East Indies is a colony in between the Philippines and Indonesia – it should not be confused with East India, which is part of India.