British troops fighting in Holland during the Thirty Years' War were given 'dutch courage' to warm them up in the freezing cold weather and boost their spirits before battle. On their return to Britain, the troops developed their own varieties but these early Gins were uncontrolled and of poor quality. This resulted in much of London going to ruin which forced Parliament in the 1740s to restrict the production and selling of gin. At the same time the whaling industry was booming in Whitby. The early whalers consisted of both local fishermen and a number of Dutch specialists who got the Whitby fisherman acquired to the taste of jenever, keeping them warm out on the North Sea.
Since the production of gin was prohibited on land, the Whitby fishermen used the town's smuggling talents to get the ingredients ashore. Smuggling wasn’t just a man’s job, in Whitby, the fishermen's wives were encouraged to get involved as they could get away with many of their crimes unnoticed – aside from their buttons bursting, from hiding contraband goods. According to tales of the times, there was a clever way in which certain Whitby women managed to bring in prohibited goods. In fact, when a woman did lend her mind to smuggling, she was full of resources, and tricks, and impudence, and energy more so than any man. Their recipe is a combination of those smuggled items as well as local products including moorland heather flowers, honey and sugar kelp.