Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Dae ye min the Jawbox?

Now don't worry, I haven't taken to the drink and I only became aware of Jawbox gin when I read an article in the summer edition of Ulster Grocer.

It stated that Jawbox Gin Limited had secured a major contract to supply 500 Asda supermarkets across the UK.

In fact it was the label on the bottle rather than the contents of the bottle that caught my attention.

According to the Gin Factory website: 
A Jawbox, more commonly known as a Belfast Sink, was a staple in Northern Irish households of old, used to wash near enough anything “from dishes, clothes, bikes, children and even sometimes their husbands,” said Jawbox Classic Dry Gin founder Gerry White. The sink was a busy place, with a lot of life and chatter revolving around it and as such has served to be one of Belfast’s most lasting legacies.

A sink or jawbox
So where does the word jawbox come from?  Well we can trace it in the Scottish National Dictionary and the word jaw appears in Old Scots as far back as 1513.  It can be a verb or a noun but as a noun it means a sudden rush or outpouring of water, 

The word jaw is found in Scots and in Ulster-Scots and from it we get the word jawbox, which means 'a water trough used for scullery purposes, or a sink in a kitchen.  It was recorded in Ulster in 1880 as was the term jaw-tub.  So this new Ulster product has an Ulster-Scots name.

The gin is produced by the Echlinville Distillery, which is situated in the grounds of the Echlinville Estate on the Ards peninsula and there's another Ulster-Scots story about the name Echlin forbye.

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