Lidl Sturmflut London Dry Gin Review – A drop too much

Sturmflut is a London Dry Gin sold by the Lidl here in Germany. The English translation of the name, as you may have already guessed, is Stormflood. The name commemorates those events that have affected, in particular, the northern parts of Germany, such as St Lucia’s Flood (which created the Zuider zee) and Saint Marcellus’ flood. I mention this in part, because I find it more interesting than the gin, but we’ll get back to that. The “northerness” of the gin is expressed in the botanicals used to flavour this gin. The bottle give a handy list: juniper, star anise, caraway, liquorice, cinnamon, tea, malt, honey and mandarin (or Wacholder, Steranis, Kümmel, Lakritz, Zimt, Tee, Malz, Honig and Mandarin in German). Now, you can argue til the cows come home about how authentic this list is, but I can see where the idea comes from. Cinnamon and tea have a touch of the north german about then, thanks to the traders of the Hanseatic League, whilst liquorice is popular in a number of northern countries, such as the Haribo Schnecken, the Dutch dropje, the Scandinavian equivalents or even the trusty Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts. The question is how does liquorice work in a gin ?

Day or Night Gin ? This is a 43% abv gin and, given the botanicals, I think you might want to take a seat and draw the curtains for the night before you partake.

What does it smell of ? Now at this point I’m guessing you’re expecting me to say liquorice, however the smell is very much a straight-up juniper aroma.

What does it taste of ? As a pure spirit you first get to taste the juniper, with a slightly sweet note of honey, and possibly a little of the tea. The aftertaste is where the liquorice jumps out. Gentle reader – I did try this as a gin and tonic and I honestly cannot find a tonic pairing and garnish that are going to help you. As an alternative it can be taken with a ginger ale – naturally assuming you are a fan of both ginger and liquorice. It’s an interesting combination. The ginger comes out immediately with the liquorice quickly knocking the ginger off your palate.

Buy It ? It has been available in th Lidl shops for a few months and you may still see it sitting in “specials” shelf. Otherwise I assume it’s permanently available via the Lidl online store. The current price is €8.99.

Overall ? 1/5 No, for me it doesn’t work BUT if you like the taste of liquorice with your liquor then don’t let me stop you. If you do buy it I could imagine drinking it as a straight chaser, much like you would drink a german korn. If you do buy it then I’d love to hear your thought on it in the comments section below.

Posted in Gin, Gin Reviews, Sturmflut London Dry Gin, Sturmflut London Dry Gin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health, Death, Genetics and the Genealogist.

 Introduction

As the market for DNA tests for genealogists matures, it has been natural for the genetic genealogy companies to leverage their customer base into further DNA testing. Recently genetic genealogy companies MyHeritage, LivingDNA and Ancestry have all announced DNA tests for the “health” market. This is a natural commercial fit for the companies, and indeed one that 23andMe has always utilised. Whilst all genealogy companies have this potential for cross-selling and data mining I believe that Ancestry especially, this is a potential gold-mine. They have all the right ingredients to build this market; the largest subscriber base of genealogists and a mostly US customer base that has already used DNA testing for genealogy and live in a country with probably the most advanced health-care system in the world. This, you would think, is the perfect storm for Ancestry to emulate the success 23andMe has had in creating the commercial tie-up with pharmaceutical giant SmithKline Beecham.

For the demand side there are also drivers. The increased understanding of the genetic causes of some illnesses combined with the increased public awareness of the availability of DNA testing means that consumers are much more willing to seek information on their own genetic risks.

Ancestry’s entry into the DNA health market is twofold. There is a rather useful announcement on the products, from which I’ve culled most of the intelligent text below.

AncestryHealth Corethis is Ancestry’s “Base” offering. The test you take is a basic DNA Microarray test. The results you get back cover “a set of curated, common ‘need to know’ health conditions and includes printable family health history and lab reports people can share with their healthcare provider ” The actual test is aiming to identify “heart disease, hereditary cancers, blood-related disorders, and risks for carrier status of health conditions, such as Tay-Sachs disease.” This tests cost US $149 or US $ 49 for people who have already taken the existing Ancestry genetic genealogy test.

AncestryHealth Plus is an altogether more-interesting and comprehensive test. For a start the test is using NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) to sequence the exome (the protein-coding regions of genes). The test is therefore “providing both greater coverage of DNA differences for each condition and more risk categories such as those related to potentially developing heart disease, cancers, and disorders related to blood, the nervous system and connective tissues“. The pricing model is also different. When the test is available (which is sometime in early 2020) it will cost US $199 with a six-monthly subscription cost of US $49. “The ongoing membership will include quarterly screening updates, more educational resources and enhanced tools for family health history and healthcare provider collaboration” The key concept here is that the health results will be continually updated on the basis of new research findings on health-affecting DNA issues.

With both tests the purchaser will have the tests ordered for them by a physician (part of PWNHealth group). This neatly side-steps any issues with the US Food and Drug Administration dept. As you may have gathered from the description of the service, at least initially, will only be available to US residents (with the exception of New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island residents who appear to be restricted from ordering by state laws)

What can I learn about my genetic health ?

Given all of the above I have been curious as to what my personal genealogical knowledge could add to understanding of my health and my health risks. In addition I wanted to see the potential genetic health information that Ancestry could “mine” from my online family history. I was also inspired by this blog posting from genetic councellor Brianne KirkpatrickDNA Testing and Family Medical History: A short Intro for Genealogists

At this point I should mention that this blog posting will naturally cover some of my and my family’s heath issues. I have been in two minds about making such personal information public, but since my parents both died over a decade ago I do not feel that such information needs to be kept private and my own health information isn’t really so shocking.

For this investigation I thought I would look at my health information in two ways. Firstly I will utilise the information that it typically available to most folks through their family network, for example, the illnesses and causes of death of my parents and grand-parents. The second approach is to put on my genealogist’s hat and look at the information that I have as a typical genealogist might dig up. Specifically I wanted to research the causes of death of all my 16 great-great-grandparents (which is the last generation I have complete knowledge of).

Before I dive into discussing health issues and there possible genetic causes please remember that I’m not a doctor and am, to be honest, I’m “winging it” based on the knowledge obtained from quick Google searches.

The Causes of Death of my Parents and Grandparents

Let’s start with my Grandparents. Unlike many people I had little experience of my grandparents – two died before I was born, a third before I was six years old, which left my grandmother who was senile for most of the time I knew her. Whilst part of this is due to a family “tradition” of marrying late it does at least suggest that I should check my grandparents health issues.

Below is the raw data on my grandparents’ deaths as I remember it from discussions with my parents and as culled from their death certificates.

 

Person Age Cause of Death (Family Lore) Cause of Death (Death Certificate)
Paternal G-father 46 failed Thyroid operation 1.a. Cardiac degeneration
1.b. Ophthalmic Goitre *
1.c. Operation Thyroidectomy
Paternal G-mother 93 Old Age 1.a Bronchopneumonia
1.b. Congestive cardiac failure
Maternal G-father 76 Cancer 1.a Cachexia
1.b. Carcinoma of Stomach (Operation)
Maternal G-mother 79 A stroke 1.a. Cerebral haemorrhage

Looking at this data it seems there are more problems with the data than information. Specifically this data, taken at face value:

  • says nothing about their illnesses and general health before their deaths. I’ve no idea, for example, if any of them smoked during their lives. Just as importantly I’m not really sure about any other illnesses they may have had through their lives.
  • needs to be read in the context of their environment. All of my grandparents came from relatively poor backgrounds. Their diet and lifestyle would reflect this. Given that they lived through both World Wars, it’s possible their health was further affected by food shortages they experienced during their lives.
  • Medical terminology baffles me. Whilst the internet provides me with the explanations it still requires me to understand and interpret this information.

Still there are a couple of important data points that need to be observed.

  • Three out of four grandparents actually lived reasonably long lives. My maternal grandfather, who I imagined dying early from cancer, was actually 76 at his death.
  • My paternal grandfather clearly had some sort of thyroid health issue. He appears to have had Graves’ Disease. From my genealogy research I found his Army discharge records from 1917, some 15 years before his death, here it stated he was discharged due to “Exopthalmic Goitre”. Researching if this is a genetic condition led me to the website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine which states that “Most of the genetic variations that have been discovered are thought to have a small impact on a person’s overall risk of developing this condition“, so I’m hoping I’m in the clear for inheriting this.

My parents’ deaths provide some more data. As before interpretation of this information seems to be the hard part:

 

Person Age Cause of Death Cause of Death (Death Certificate)
Dad 78 Heart Attack, Stomach Cancer 1.a. Cardiac degeneration
1.b. Ophthalmic Goitre *
1.c. Operation Thyroidectomy
Mum 72 Motor Neurone Disease 1.a Bronchopneumonia
1.b. Congestive cardiac failure

Clearly both of them had medical conditions that resulted in their deaths.

  • As my Mum experienced Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a horrible illness and there are four known genes (C9orf72, SOD1, FUS and TARDBP) that may play a part in people developing “familial MND”. However, familial MND only covers 1 in 15 people who are affected by MND. As an information sheet from the Oxford University Hospitals department says “the absolute lifetime risk of any individual developing MND is roughly 0.3 percent, a small increase in risk still means that the chance of developing the disease for anyone with a relative with sporadic MND is still very low.” If MND is a condition you are concerned about, this information on “Is MND Hereditary” is an excellent primer.
  • My Dad’s death was more complicated. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but was also suffering from problems with his heart. This, however, all occurred within the the last six months of his life, when he was already relatively old. I know he smoked during his youth, but I don’t know for how long and how much. Given this and what else  I know of his health, it’s hard to see that there was a significant genetic cause for his death.

The deaths of my Great Great Grandparents

Approaching the issue of Family Health from the genealogist’s perspective I looked at the causes of the deaths of my gg Grandparents. The first thing I realised was that I knew very little about their deaths, sometimes not even when exactly they died. This is due the approach genealogists typically take. We tend to research in our ancestors mostly to confirm their position in the family tree. This means that we research their births and marriages through birth and marriage certificates. In Great Britain a birth certificate will normally confirm the parents’ names whilst a marriage certificate will record the bride and grooms Fathers’ names and their occupation. Once our ancestors are married and have given birth to the next generation they are, in some sense, of less interest – they have performed their biological function.

My first task here was to order up most of the death certificates for my g-grandparents. The results are collated below:

Person Age Died Cause of Death (Death Certificate)
George Grass 86 15-Dec-1915 1. Pleurisy (infection) 2. Cardiac Failure
Charlotte Whittle 75 18-Dec-1895 …deceased hanged herself … whilst temporarily Insane
Horace Basham 87 27-Jun-1921 Senile Decay
Eliza Bowers 83 21-Sep-1915 Senile Decay
George Lambert 66 16-May-1890 Chronic Bronchial Catarrh, Senile Decay
Sarah Readman 81 17-Apr-1913 Senile Decay, Cardiac Failure 5 days
John Sturdy 49 18-Jan-1868 Double Pneumonia of 36 hours
Jane Bendelow 76 20-Oct-1903 Cerebral haemorrhage 4 days Hemiplagia &
John Smith 66 23-Aug-1991 Paralysis 7 days, Hemiplegia
Mary Hall 80 01-Oct 1897-1901 Gastro Enteritis
Thomas Cornforth 75 22-Jan-1895 Cardiac Disease
Ann Atkinson 71 21-Jul-1891 Acute Laryngitis 24 hours Tracheotomy 4 hours
John Stewart 66 11-Oct-1877 Cardiac dropsy
Jane Bell 76 28-Jul-1892 Bronchitis
Thomas Armstrong 67 14-Jun-1883 Cirrhosis
Maria Singleton Angus 67 22-Aug-1886 Heart Disease, Dropsy some years Syacope

If you prefer a more visual image I’ve mapped the location of their deaths.

Looking at the date we can see ancestors lived a reasonable age. Whilst the youngest death died aged 49, the average (mean) age at death was over 73, whilst the oldest lasted until aged 87. Even Charlotte Whittle, who committed suicide, lived beyond the average age of this group. It also shows that my gg-grandparents lived on average as long as my parents and grandparents. They were clearly a strong bunch.

There are a number of problems with this type of analysis:

  • The causes of death, as recorded in the late nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century are even harder for me to interpret than later records, especially given my lack of medical knowledge. I honest don’t know what Cardiac Dropsy is (apart from a heart issue). Perhaps this is also indicative of the lack of knowledge of the patients, their family and the local GP who recorded the deaths.
  • “Senile Decay” is recorded in three of the deaths. I guess this is typical of the age. It’s very unspecific, although perhaps it’s enough for my research to indicate there is no major-risk issue.
  • There is something of a “Survivor Bias” here. All my ancestors were physically fit enough to live to adulthood and have children. Their siblings may have not been so lucky/healthy and may be worth further investigation.

I’ll be honest I was somehow expecting to gain some more insights from this analysis – both from the health perspective and from a family history view.

Final Thoughts

In this research I have deliberately avoided looking at what I could learn from the genetic health reporting that 23andMe and now Ancestry provide. I wanted to concentrate on the information I could find as a genealogist only. For those who have taken DNA tests at other companies there are also a number of third-party sites, like promethease.com who can also provide an analysis of your potential genetic risks.

Clearly, in my case, the history of my parents’ health is the most useful indicate of potential health issues. For any discussions that I would be having with my doctor their illnesses would be the most important to highlight. If/when you are having this type of discussion with a doctor you may find that the “My Family Health Portrait Tool” from the U.S. Center for Disease Control provides an excellent starting point for recording the information that you know about your family’s health.

This brings me to one of the other key points of my research. Understanding health issues for a simple soul like myself is difficult, both in terms of the terminology and the impact illnesses and hereditary conditions will have on your life. As we gain more knowledge of our genetic risks we need to be able to have this information correctly interpreted. Whilst this work can be done through a doctor there is clearly a role for “Genetic Counsellors”  to help you evaluate the issues and risks associated with any genetic health issues.

Whilst I’m not a doctor, I suspect that for many people their genetic health risks play a significantly less important role that their lifestyle health risks. The usual recommendations for leading a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol-use) are probably far more important. On top of this there is always the fact that your life and health could be affected by something other than illness – the proverbial being hit by a bus type of accident (true story – it happened to my brother, he got quite a bang but is OK now)

I suspect the issue of survivor bias is important in this type of research. One thing I know from my genealogical research is how often my ancestors’ siblings died during childhood. I suspect this was often an effect of living in poverty, but there could have been some genetic causes.

Looking at this information from the perspective of the genealogy companies it is clear that it is hard to categorise and sell this type of information, along with your DNA results, to third-parties. 23andMe have always sought to engage with their customer base to understand their health issues and connect them to their DNA. I suspect this is the only way to obtain meaningful health information for their customers.

Finally, as you may have gathered from this article, I’m no health expert. Please feel free to comment on this article if you think I’ve misinterpreted any of the health issues, or if you have any other thoughts on this topic.

 

 

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Aldi “Oliver Cromwell” London Dry Gin Review – Don’t believe the hype

image taken from https://www.aldi.co.uk/ Nov 2019A while back, Aldi made a bit of a splash with their own brand gins. Trawling through the internet I see that the gin has received a number Silver or Bronze Medals from the International Wine & Spirit Competition from 2013 all the way to 2018. In Germany this gin is not the house-brand. That privilege is reserved for the jolly blue-bottled Wellinghouse Premium London Dry Gin. The Oliver Cromwell turns up in the specials and, to be honest, as a connoisseur of cheap gins I was keen to try it.

Packaging for this gin is a bit hit and miss. The green bottle looks a little sad. It’s way too rectangular with little on the label to stir your imagination. It’s almost as though the bottle is designed to pack nicely in the shelves til some poor and desperate soul takes it home. Even worse, the gin design includes a generic-looking crown. I really hope this was an ironic touch by the designers. On to the taste test.

Day or Night Gin ? it’s a mild 37.5% ABV gin. Finished your shopping for the day – why not have a drink.

What does it smell of ? When I sniffed the full bottle my first thoughts were it smelt like petrol. Not a good start. A few weeks later I had another go. This time it was better, a more-normal juniper smell.

What does it taste of ? It’s actually quite a smooth gin, based around the traditional elements of juniper, something herbal and a little citrus. The first G&T I tried with it was a thoroughly disappointing affair. The problem is that this gin really struggles to contain the tonic. I guess part of the problem here is that it’s a relatively low-alcohol gin. This makes sense – one way to make a budget gin is to dilute it more. Put it another way. If you have a 47% gin you add another 25% water to it and have a 37.5% ABV gin.

Buy It ? You’ll have to wait until your local Aldi is stocking it. In Germany neither Aldi-Nord or Aldi-Sued seem to be offering it online. From memory it was on offer for €9,99.

Overall ? 2 / 5 I understand what Aldi are trying to do here. A traditional gin majoring on the juniper taste. That said, the gin just doesn’t control the tonic in a G&T. I believe the low alcohol levels play a part in this. Personally, I would take a small step up and invest in one of the classic gins from Beefeater, Tanquerey or Haymans. If you want to stick in the budge sector go for either the Lidl Schwarzwald Gin or the Rewe Diamond of Marrakesh.

Otherwise put some money in a decent tonic, such as the Fevertree Indian Tonic Water.

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RootsTech London 2019 – show report

Build a Show and they will come” (or something like that). Those were the words of Steve Rockwood, President and CEO of FamilySearch during his keynote speech, opening the  RootsTech London 2019. He was, naturally, paraphrasing the famous line from Field of Dreams and, just like in the movie, they came.

This show was the first time that the US genealogical show behemoth was to be run outside of the US and, as I walked across a wet and deserted ExCeL London car park, I must admit I wasn’t sure if I was the only person attended. Fortunately I wasn’t. The show was an unarguable success, with an expected attendance of around 6,000 during the weekdays and a bumper crowd of 10,000 expected for the Saturday.

Hello London – Welcome to RootsTech

On top of the impressive attendee numbers there was significant commercial presence, with most of the major genealogical (and DNA companies) featuring prominently. Importantly the attendees were not only there just for the exhibitors (and keynote-speaker Donny Osmand), they were also there from the lectures. I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen such good attendance for the lectures.  As an example, the bellwether “DNA Testing Panel Discussion” had an attendance of (in my estimate) around 200 people, compared to the more typical 30 hardy souls that I’ve seen at some versions of the same panel discussion. Clearly Rootstech managed to engage a lot of people.

This success was despite the crowded genealogical show calendar. This year has already seen the Family Tree Live show and The Genealogy Show trying to step into the void left by the demise of “Who Do You Think You Are Live!”

Having had a couple of days to reflect on things I thought it worthwhile recording what made the show so successful, and pleasurable for attendees like myself.

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Finding Roy’s Grandparent – How DNA testing helps your research

Foreword

I have been involved in ‘genetic genealogy’ since I took a DNA test at 23andMe in 2012. Whilst I have found such testing interesting and occasionally useful, I’ve never used it for something “really important“. However, for the last few months, I’ve been working with a relative who has been searching for information about his ancestors. Information that would never have been found without the use of DNA testing. In this post, I want to describe the tools and techniques we have used to combine traditional and genetic-genealogy to identify an ancestor.

I should just mention that I have slightly changed the order of events that occurred to simplify the ‘story-telling’ of this investigation. In writing up this research I’ve used bold test emphasis either a name or a result.

Introduction

Earlier this year I had a new and interesting DNA match on the Ancestry.com website. This match was from a test taken by Roy Gress who lives in Australia. Roy was interesting for three reasons. Firstly, and most obviously his Gress surname was curiously close to my own, relatively rare, Grass surname. Secondly, he and I matched a known second-cousin, June. She and I are descendants of my great grandparents, George Grass and Elizabeth Ann Basham (more of them later). This DNA-connection implied that we were all related through either George or Elizabeth, or both, or one of their ancestors. Finally, my new match was showing, by the Ancestry website, as possibly being a 3rd cousin. Given that the Grass family is relatively well-researched, and that he didn’t seem to match any known Grass, my curiosity was well and truly piqued.

After some communication between the two of us, it became clear that our link must exist through his father, Frederick William Gress.

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Whitby Dry Gin Review – “Where Land Meets Sea”

Whitby Gin – simple, no-nonsense branding here.

If you are going to create a British regional gin-brand then there are probably no better place to use than Whitby. This old fishing village has pretty much everything. From a historic perspective there is Whitby Abbey, home to St. Hilda and host to the Synod of Whitby. The port is located at the mouth of the river Esk which drains Eskdale, part of the beautiful North York Moors. In literature, Whitby is the location where Dracula, in the form of a large dog bounded ashore and climbed the 199 steps to the Abbey. Finally, the town is known for the black Whitby Jet jewellery made from jet mined on the nearby moors. Enough of the tourist information what about the gin.

The Whitby Dry Gin is a product of the Whitby Distillery, the brain-child of founders Jess and Luke. Currently the distillery’s core products are the dry gin and the slightly-sweeter Old Tom. In addition they produce a number of specials, such as a “Stoker Edition” black gin, that dilutes to blood red in a G&T.

As well as the usual-suspects amongst the botanicals (Juniper, Coriander Seed, Citrus Peels and Liquorice Root) the gin features three local signature botanicals. Firstly heather tips, sustainably harvested from the North Yorks Moors, sugar kelp from nearby Robin Hood’s Bay and raw honey from a local bees. Obviously the heather adds a herbal note to the gin, the honey a sweet note whilst the sugar kelp should add both a sugary and savoury/umami taste to the gin. The gin is distilled via a “single-shot London dry gin distillation process”.

As their website warns, the gin is not chill-filtered and may turn a little cloudy when mixed with a tonic water, as the oils from the gin form an emulsion with water (the Ouzo Effect). The last thing you need to know before the taste test is that the gin was the winner of the “2019 World Gin Awards – Best London Dry Gin (UK)”. That put it ahead of such names as Tanquerey and That Boutique-y Gin Company. However the value of the award is a little tarnished by the fact Gordon’s Gin (my gin nemesis) received a Bronze award.

Now on to the tasting. The distillery have their own tasting notes, but we’re going to ignore them for the moment.

Day or Night Gin ? This is an unusual 42% ABV gin, so halfway between the strong stuff (typically 47% ABV) and the mild stuff (39% ABV), so let’s call it a mid-afternoon gin.

What does it smell of ? On the nose it’s quite a herbal whiff, possibly angelica but perhaps carrying some of the heather flavour. In addition there’s something a little lemony going on.

What does it taste of ? The undiluted gin is a little on the rough side. On top of the herbal notes you can taste the honey and something a little savoury, I’m guessing this is the sugar kelp. In a G&T the gin really shines. The gin is strong enough to handle the tonic’s quinine, whilst the herbal botanicals deliver an excellent bitter G&T.

Buy it ? You can get it directly from the website. The classic 70ml bottle is available £37 plus £4.50 postage if you are in the UK. Alternatively it’s stocked by the MasterofMalt website for the discount price of £35.95 plus postage (to almost anywhere in the world). A better alternative would be to visit one of their stockists. I bought my bottle (the 20ml sampler) at the marvellous Lewis & Cooper, but for the ultimate experience I think you should make a day of it and visit Rievaulx Abbey which apparently stocks this gin.
Admittedly this is an expensive gin, but this is a 2-year old business, still at the boutique end of the gin world.

Overall 5/5 This is a much better gin than I was expecting (which is actually a complement). I’m a big fan of the more herbal gins (like the Norwegian Harahorn), so this is probably no surprise. The signature botanicals add to the taste, without overwhelming the palate.

The fact this is a North Yorkshire gin probably makes me a little biased and dewy-eyed. Congratulations on the team at Whitby Distillery for making such a good gin. Winning the UK section World Gin Awards shows the quality of this boutique gin. If you were thinking about this gin, then try it and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

PS. If you were wondering how the distillery describes their gin then read on:

Nose: Herbal floral air with hint of sweetness.
Palate: Rich mouthfeel of juniper with a lovely clean freshness which lingers.
Pair with: 150ml of Mediterranean Fever-Tree tonic & garnish with pink grapefruit & a sprig of rosemary.

 

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Genealogy Shorts – Ancestry enables Two-Factor Authentication

I guess the title says it all. You can now use Two-factor Authentication (commonly written as 2FA) on your Ancestry Account. In Ancestry language it’s called Two-Step Verification. If you haven’t yet been exposed to this technology, 2FA requires that you have 2 different factors to authenticate your account. These two factors are commonly something you know (your password) and something you have (a mobile phone, or a hardware key such as a yubikey). With Ancestry this means that every time you log-in to your Ancestry account you need to enter a 6-digit code that will be texted to your mobile phone. If that sounds like a pain then you can and should enable the option to “Remember this Device” – it’s a tick box that is part of the sign-in pop-up box (see below).

Ancestry is able to send SMS messages out to mobile-phones in most countries – hence my +49 German Phone Number

Enabling Two-factor authentication is easy. Whilst signed in to your account go to the section “My Account”. This is available on the top-right of any web-page you have open at Ancestry. Next to the small thumbnail picture of yourself you will have name. Click on this and a small drop-down menu will appear. Click on the option “My Account” or access it directly from ancestry.com/secure/account. Edit the Section “Your Account” (see image below).

You will then need to provide a mobile phone number and have that authenticated. In addition you will get a 12 character emergency backup code. This is important, so print it off and keep it safe. As the pop-up box says “For your security, your account will be locked if you do not have your verification code or your emergency backup code“. If you lose your phone, or just your phone number you will need this code to remove 2FA from your account

Ancestry’s one-time emergency Backup Code (or at least part of it)

Why do you need Two-Factor Authentication?

Unless you are using a Password Manager to generate long complex passwords you will probably be using the same password on multiple sites. There is already a good chance that your email address/password combination is already known to the “bad guys”. If you want to find out about this there is no better site than Try Hunt’s haveibeenpwned.com. Simply type in your email account and see which sites have leaked account information linked to your email address.

In addition it’s important to remember that Ancestry itself had a data breach between  2015 and 2017 when “a file containing almost 300k email addresses and plain text passwords was identified

Finally

I must admit that I doubt that anyone’s Ancestry account is a prime target for hackers, but I think good information-technology security means that you should use the safest options for your presence in the on-line world.

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