The British NavY in Menorca
Menorca, the most easterly of the Balearic Islands, belonged to the British Crown for most of the 18th century. First occupied in 1708 during the War of Spanish Succession, it was formally ceded to Great Britain in 1713 at the Treaty of Utrecht. The island's strategic significance lay in its port at Mahon, one of the best natural harbours in the Mediterranean, which became a major British naval base. Sailors and soldiers stationed on the island frequented local taverns but were unable to find gin, the most popular drink of the day. Before long, a group of Mahon craftsmen found a solution to the problem. They imported juniper berries, which were not native to the island, and distilled gin using wine alcohol from Mediterranean vineyards
The Pons Family
Almost 100 years ago, Sr. Miguel Pons Justo, head of one of the first Menorcan families to produce the local gin, christened their creation Xoriguer (pronounced sho-ri-gair). Wishing to reflect the family's long established reputation as millers, he named the gin after the emblem of his family's centuries old milling business: Xoriguer, the old windmill, built in 1784, in which many generations of the Pons family had converted bushels of wheat to flour.
Over time, Xoriguer gin became more than merely a local curiosity and gained ever widening recognition for its unique flavour and distinctive bottle.
These attributes, and its characteristic Mediterranean flavour, eventually resulted in Xoriguer being one of the few gins to be recognised throughout the EU as a local speciality with a geographic designation of origin, Mahon-Menorca.
Xoriguer is still a family business, and the Pons family aims to introduce the distinctive appeal of its gin to a wider circle of gin connoisseurs.
Our Culture and Traditions
During the 18th and 19th centuries Menorcan gin became a fashionable drink at cultural events and fiestas on the island. Xoriguer in the local cocktail, pomada, is at the heart of each fiesta. Fiestas take place almost every weekend throughout the summer where towns are transformed into pubic celebrations of Menorcan tradition, the centre of which is the jáleo, at which horses and their elaborately dressed riders enter the town's main square and, encouraged by the crowd, dance to the music of the local band.