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Why does gin come in 70cl bottles?

What’s better than a bottle of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Bathtub Gin? A bigger bottle! We’re thrilled to now stock this amazing gin in magnums.

But why is it called a magnum? And why are gins normally sold in 70cl bottles?

Until last century wine and spirits could be sold in any size bottle the producer fancied but tradition and convention had it that most were sold in 75cl bottles (actually 5 wineglassfulls, an older measurement but near enough to 75cl).

The original reason behind this specific size isn’t known but theories have ranged from this being the largest size that a glass blower could make in one breath, to it being the ideal size to accompany one drinker with their dinner (that would be wine, we don’t recommend drinking an entire bottle of gin with dinner, no matter how nice it is.) So a bottle of wine (or whisky or gin) was generally assumed to be this size.

Of course, there were a lot of distillers who felt that they could make a little extra profit on a bottle if it were 74cl, or 70, or 69 and they could use different shapes to make it look like you were getting more for your money than the truth. So regulation naturally followed to help ensure drinkers were paying a fair price. Since tradition had it that most bottles were 75cl this was a good fit for the “standard” bottle size.

Until 1990 when, for reasons known only to themselves, the EU decided to set the standard bottle size for spirits to 70cl. It remained 75cl for wine, and, interestingly, still remains 75cl in America. So if one of our American cousins like FEW Barrels wants to import to the UK they need to produce a batch in (slightly) smaller bottles.

So that’s why 70cl, but what about magnums? Magnum bottles are 150cl and come from the Champagne industry and the Latin word magnus, meaning great. Unlike many wines, champagne has to be fermented in the bottle to get that glorious fizz. And lots of bottles costs more money and takes up more space so it’s in the producer’s interest to use a larger bottle. A magnum is about the largest size bottle a champagne winemaker can use and still get that fizz so they became a typical serving size.

With his trademarked chaos and renowned ingenuity, Professor Ampleforth (of bathtub fame) long ago earnt his place as gin’s resident oddball! With innovative combinations and unusual distillation techniques the Prof has made a wonderful range of drinks. From traditional style gin to cold-distilled absinthe and smoked vodka, there isn’t a spirit that he hasn’t turned his hand to. So it came as no surprise when Professor Ampleforth decided to try his wares in magnum sized bottles!

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Even larger bottles are unusual but far from unheard of, especially in wine. Winemakers took their wine seriously. So much so that the majority of bottles have biblical names - Balthazar (12 litres), Solomon (18 litres) and Midas (30 litres). Kings and Wise Men. That’s a lot of respect for wine, so we shouldn’t be surprised that gin distillers have followed suit. Foxdenton offer a 4.5 litre bottle of their sloe gin named for biblical giant Goliath and Silent Pool have unveiled what we think is the world’s biggest bottle of gin, a 9 litre Salmanazar of Silent Pool.

A magnum of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Bathtub Gin would make a stunning centrepiece of a gin collection or an amazing gift for a gin lover.

Why does gin come in 70cl bottles?

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