The Finsbury Distillery Company was established by Joseph Bishop in the City of London in 1740. The company manufactured Finsbury Gin.
The gin was made to a closely guarded secret recipe using a molasses neutral base spirit. It was produced in single batches in a 10,000 litre copper post, affectionately known as Jenny.
This was the era when the gin business was booming and distilleries were flourishing. The ready availability and low cost of gin had led to a massive rise in consumption known as the Gin Craze; in the 1730s consumption of gin in London had risen to the equvalent of two pints per week per Londoner.
There was no quality control whatsoever (gin was frequently mixed with turpentine), and licenses for distilling required only the application. Widespread drunkenness and disorderly conduct in parts of the city was becoming cause for concern. As a result in 1751 the Gin Act was passed. It prohibited gin distillers from selling directly to the public and merchants eligible for retail licenses were charged high fees.
Falling profits and diminished sales of gin saw the Finsbury Distillery Co. turn to the production of ginger wine as their leading product.
A grocer called Joseph Stone was one of the company’s most prominent and important customers, and as such, had his name given to the firm’s ginger wine. Stone’s Ginger Wine soon became the company’s flagship product.
In the 19th century sales were boosted by a cholera epidemic and a widely held belief that ginger offered protection against the disease. Other claims marketed the wine as a medicinal tonic that aided digestion and served as an effective aphrodisiac.
Since 1994, the Finsbury Distillery Company has been owned by a German wine and spirits company called Borco. Stone’s Ginger Wine is still produced today and is widely available through most licensed premises in the UK.