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cowdery
04-26-2007, 20:16
On his recent Chicago visit, Gary Gillman gifted me with a bottle of De Kuyper Genievre Geneva, a blended gin from Montreal. He knew I was recently doing gin research. Thanks, Gary.

I don't know what the term "blended gin" means. One source I found said it is gin mixed with redistilled alcohol. I'm not sure that clears it up.

This is much more in the Dutch gin tradition than any English gin, but based on my limited experience with Dutch gin, this seems like yet another thing altogether. It has that raw, green, white-dog flavor I associate with Dutch gin, as well as pomace brandy (e.g., grappa) and other spirits that are innocent of oak, but it also tastes kind of malty. It doesn't appear to be sweetened and while I do get juniper I don't get citrus, which is a signature note of most English gin.

How is it normally consumed? neat? rocks? In the standard gin cocktails?

Gillman
04-29-2007, 18:25
Chuck, as discussed during Sampler just passed, I believe blended means that moutwijn is blended with a grain-derived but neutral spirit. Moutwijn is the original jenever. It is essentially a rye white dog (a rye-dominant distillate distilled at a low proof in which malted barley makes a telling appearance), flavored with juniper.

I believe de Kuyper supplies a moutwijn-heavy version of its jenever for the Quebec market. Jenever (or genever) has been drunk for hundreds of years in Quebec and when it was first imported the product would have been all-moutwijn, so possibly de Kuyper is still catering to that historic taste there.

In Quebec it is consumed on the rocks or neat and in winter, warm water and honey are added to make a ponche blanc (white punch). In Holland generally it is conumed neat but I have heard that some young genever (which has just a little moutwijn in it) is mixed often with Coke.

It goes well with a beer too.

Gary

cowdery
04-30-2007, 19:39
I Googled "moutwijn" and got some interesting hits, including the blog of Dr. Alex R. "Lax" Kraaijeveld (http://www.celticmalts.com/edge.htm). Scroll down to his entry for November 1, 2003, in which he describes an encounter with moutwijn and declares it "whiskey."

This is something we get into from time to time, the threads of the more ancient and less well known European distilling traditions. It interests many of us because it supports the theory that the American whiskey tradition is derived from several European sources, not just Scotland and Ireland. I believe it is equally indebted to the moutwijn tradition of Holland, the brandy tradition of France, and possibly the Korn tradition of Germany.

Gillman
05-01-2007, 03:17
Interesting, thanks. My understanding is that genevers in which "moutwijn" makes a telling appearance are called "oude" (old), not necessarily because they are aged, but because they are in the old, or original, style (distilled to a low proof in pot stills, originally).

The later styles used molasses or sugar beet as the base for the mash and were highly rectified. What differentiates these jenevers from, say, London gin in my view is their production method (a less complex and less intensively imparted mixture of "botanicals") and use in most cases of some moutwijn (be it ever so little) which gives the characteristic taste. Still, it must be said some modern genevers are quite neutral-tasting, using little if any juniper and little if any moutwijn - so there is a broad range out there.

It remains true that some oude genever is aged in wood and this tends to approach more the modern whiskey model. It is sort of a cross between Scots practice using reused wood and American practice using corn and rye as the base and the end result often is like Canadian whisky, which is exactly that. Filliers, a Belgian brand of genever aged in wood which happens not to use juniper, tastes a lot like Canadian whisky in my view.

Juniper was an alternative to barrel aging (alternative rectification agent) - yet some wood-aged genevers have a potent juniper taste - as always, people made what they wanted or liked and it is hard to classify these genevers (in the same way there is no one Belgian style of beer - the Belgian style is to be unrestrained stylistically).

De Kuyper's regular genever as sold in Quebec (and Holland) is not aged in wood and represents the unaged side of the "whiskey" equation.

I agree most people today would associate whiskey with an aging process but of course orginally whiskey could be unaged or little aged. Whether aged or not, the relationship to both Scots, Irish and U.S. whiskey seems clear. We have discussed earlier how a vodka still made in Poland, Starka, is a low-proof distillate (off the still) made mainly from rye and long aged in wood, so that is another kind of European whiskey.

New artisanal makers of whiskey in Europe really are drawing on their own older traditions and are not copying as such American or Scots whisky.

I agree that American practice seems an amalgam or to have been influenced by various European traditions. In New Amsterdam, genever in the late 1600's and 1700's would have been well-known. Rum may have overtaken some of that tradition but when rum declined in the Revolutionary era, it was natural for that city and the other big centres to "return" to a low-proof cereal distillate - the Pennsylvanian whiskey, which originally was not long aged, would have resembled that genever. This is why in my view New York always was a stronghold until the mid-1900's of rye whiskey, and the tradition slowly is returning there.

Gary

Gillman
05-01-2007, 03:42
Just a footnote that sadly traditional Quebec genever - which is really transplanted Dutch genever - has almost disappeared. De Kuyper's brand, still made in Quebec under license I believe, is the last surviving one. Even 20 years ago there were about 10 different brands (Bols had one in that market - again made locally, there was one called Croix Rouge, and others). In Holland too the taste for traditional genever (as opposed to brands that are essentially like vodka) has declined greatly altough all the traditional types are still made there. The market for genever in Quebec was the old British stock population and the French-speaking part of the Province. In time, I think the former group switched to London gin as did many French Quebeckers, and so the market for the old heavy-flavoured "gros gin" started to wither. But geneva still remained a favourite in the Quebec countryside and parts of some cities until recently. Now, people drink everything under the sun in Quebec (wine, brandies, malt and other whiskies, beer, cider) and the Province has almost forgotten its earlier tradition of Dutch-style gin.

Gary

Gillman
05-01-2007, 12:52
In case people are wondering why a Dutch drink would achieve popularity in French Quebec, the reasons are many and varied. First, Dutch gin became well-known in Britain early on through the influence of King William of Orange ("Dutch Billy"). When the British took Quebec in the late 1700's, Dutch-style gin and the Dutch original production would have come in with the maritime trade launched, or re-launched, under British auspices. There were many names for genever gin in Britain and areas influenced by Britain such as "Hollands" (origin evident) and "Old Square Face" (named after the distinctive square bottle shape, a shape chosen to facilitate distant shipment).

So the mere availability of the drink in Quebec would have meant the "Canadiens" would take to it especially since importation of French drinks would have been affected by the Conquest.

Second, the French themselves drank geneva gin in France, at least on the northern coasts of France and the drink was established early on in local maritime commerce. E.g. in what is now French Flanders, an area, then and now, of Flemish influence and culture, numerous genever distilleries were established in the later 1600's. Thus, areas not so far to the south, such as Normandy and Brittany, from which most French Canadians came or sailed to Canada, would have been markets for this drink as were the sailors who sailed those boats across the Atlantic and subsequently settled (many of them) in Old Quebec.

So even in the French era in Canada, the drink may have had currency in what is now Quebec. Michael Jackson, in his 1987 World Guide to Whisky, states that geneva gin was brought early to Canada as ship's ballast, although I do not recall if Jackson stated under which regime this occurred.

Then too, the link between Holland and France was (formerly) close in matters of drink. The Dutch supplied much of the early distilling technology for brandy to the Cognac region of Bordeaux. They did the early work to design and fashion the copper vessels. They acquired a taste for the French brandy and wine sent back in grateful exchange. (Once the vessels were in place they sent good Dutch cheese to keep the flow of brandy and wine going). It stands to reason that the Dutch would send some of their native specialty in hard drink, genever gin, to the French and as I say, it became and still is (although in attenuated form) a regional drink both in the littoral and inland areas of French Flanders, e.g., around Lille, Somme Valley, Boulogne. I myself sought out and enjoyed surviving French examples of genever gin in these areas some 10 years ago, so the fact that it was also popular at one time in Quebec was no surprise.

So this is a bit of background to a drink with an interesting social and economic history and which has many connections to American, Scots and Irish whiskeys although this is not always apparent at first blush.

Gary

mier
05-24-2007, 04:23
Well i wanted to reply but you`ve said it all (almost),if anyone is interested in more info about jenever (young,old,corenwijn,dubbelgebeide of enkel)just let me know via pm,also if you are looking for a special type i`m willing to help you in anyway,greetings mier.

Gillman
05-24-2007, 04:43
Thanks, just one question. Is any product today marketed which is 100% moutwijn? If so, it is always flavored with juniper? And finally, is it aged?

A 100% moutwijn would I think taste quite pungent and strong-tasting.

Perhaps a last query: what is the strength at which moutwijn is distilled? In America, bourbon mash must come out at not over 80% ABV and often is distilled at much less, say 70% or less, to preserve the flavor of the grain.

Is this so with moutwijn?

Gary

mier
05-24-2007, 07:50
There are two ways of making dutch gin, #1 let all the herbs and spices in the still and distill that or #2 put herbs and/or spices in the spirit.To be called jenever the alcohol level must be at least 38% but standard is 40%,(berry and lemon gin have other criteria)most distillers bring their product back to the desired level.Moutwijn or corenwijn is only given that name if the amount of barley is minimum of 51% and are mostley matured for some months or years.The city i live in has a young one that is very good but also a corenwijn aged 3 yrs.The older folks drinking the young one with sugar and the corenwijn out of the freezer in a frozen glass both a waste of a good drink!The young one i prefer cooled and the corenwijn you should drink it one time as a digestive on roomtemperature,a very complex taste you get.The only reason that you can`t call it a whisky is that there are herbs and spices being added(thanks EEC)strange as you think that Canadian whisky may contain brandy.The differance between Belgian and Dutch jenever is that the belgians mostly have a alcohollevel between 35 and (40 standard 38%).Also they have more jenevers with fruits like pear or melon added.The jenevers from French-Flanders again have mostly only young or old and fruitflavoured ones are rare.

Gillman
05-24-2007, 09:00
Thanks, corenwijn would suggest all-grain, the ones I have had were good but quite spicy (from the kinds of additions you mentioned) and not whisky-like, and I would think they are distilled at a high proof (which would reduce the amount of taste coming from the grain).

I understand moutwijn to be a combination of barley malt, rye, maize and/or wheat and distilled to a low proof to preserve the grain flavor, ot at least, it used to be.

Then too I recall the very knowledgeable owner of Noord, the genever specialty store in Amsterdam, telling me that the legal rules to make genever are few and flexible and every maker tends to offer his own style and interpretation.

My information about moutwijn came from an early 1990's article in a Wallonian trade magazine for the licensed and restaurant trades, I'll try to dig it out.

Gary

mier
05-24-2007, 10:49
Gary you`re right the most is left to the distillers but as the corenwijn concerns they are very strict,maize is not used so much in jenever but rye and barley are.If i can remember there is or was one distiller that used 50 to 60% maize but i haven`t seen that brand for ages,it was Olifant if i`m correct.

Gillman
05-24-2007, 10:56
I used to like Filliers a lot but recent samplings (including the 8 years old expression) seem to me less full-flavoured than 15 years ago. It is kind of like a Canadian whisky, but not really as big in character as a malt whisky or a bourbon. Still a decent drink though - and they don't use juniper.

Gary

mier
05-24-2007, 14:13
If you want i can send you a sample of the corenwijn from my place,a very good one as well,just let me know if it is legally okay to do so,i heard it is forbidden to send alcohol by mail in the US?

Gillman
05-24-2007, 16:45
No, no, kind of you to offer, but not necessary. I have tasted one or two before (e.g. Bols') and found them interesting.

Here some of us like to discuss these European grain-based alcohols to see if we can draw analogies to straight whiskey and possibly see e.g., if early European immigrants may have brought these tastes to America. The Dutch of course founded New York and Germanic peoples who came to the North East of the U.S. seemed to have been familiar with rye and its derivatives, so there is speculation whether early forms of schnapps, genevers, German korns, etc. might have influenced the start of U.S. whiskey. Thanks again for your suggestion though.

Gary

mier
05-26-2007, 10:43
Well Gary i always thought that the Scottish and Irish colonists brought the art of whisky to the States but it is a very interesting idea.I will have a look around if there is something to be found in the old archives in Holland(the taxman was already very smart in those days).Eric.

Gillman
05-26-2007, 10:54
Thank you, and it is to be noted that (as far as I know) rye was not cultivated in Ulster at the time of the mass immigrations to the U.S. of the Scots-Irish. (What is now Ulster was the home of the Scots-Irish, a people originally English and Scottish, of Protestant background, who were settled in Ireland by the English in thier attempt to colonise Ireland).

Gary

mier
05-26-2007, 22:18
Rye is indeed a continental north European grain,i remember that my grandmother from Friesland always ate very dark ryebread.In those parts it is still common.Also a lot of names in the U.S. whiskey industry sounds Dutch or German to me ,van Winkle is Dutch no doubt but also Michter and Dickel sound like they are from Germanic heritage,how to trace back their history,if their ancestors already had some knowledge of distilling in Europe they took it with them and may be they start making a drink people asked for.I`m gonna try to trace back the roots of van Winkle but can you give me some info about the van Winkle family and their plant?Eric.

Gillman
05-27-2007, 04:15
Thanks, I don't have any information on the European background to most of these families except it is known that the first Beam was a German immigrant, the name was spelled differently originally but pronounced the same way. Dickel was a German name too, however I think the first Dickel came in the 1800's whereas the pattern had been fixed (the typical U.S. whiskey mashbill) by the later 1700's. Abraham Overholt was an immigrant from a Swiss-German or other German-speaking background, and it is thought that rye distillation might have come with his family and many others from Switzerland, Palatinate, what is now Alsace and possibly too I think The Netherlands.

I think the way to understand any influence is to try to determine, more than looking at specific names or families, what was being distilled in Europe in the 1700's when people from these areas came to America. For example, moutwijn, but for the juniper flavoring (which probably wasn't always used) is really a kind of new whiskey I think. If it was a combination of barley malt, rye and maybe some other grains, this seems similar to the early American whiskeys before they were aged. But let's say some moutwijn was aged in casks even in Holland in the 1700's, or in parts of German lands, well that might suggest a link to what emerged as a practice of American distillers.

Gary

cowdery
05-27-2007, 17:57
Since neither the Van Winkles nor the Dickels were distillers (they were merchants), their country of origin is not so important, but Boehm (Beam) is German, and that alone is enough to upset the Scots-Irish apple cart.

Michter was a made-up name but Bomberger, the family that owned the Schaeffeerstown distillery from the 1850s until Prohibition, was presumably German and Johann Shenk, the distillery's founder, was Swiss.

The problem with the Scots-Irish theory is that if the Scots-Irish brought whiskey-making to America, why was America's first whiskey rye whiskey? Why wasn't it malt whiskey? Sure, a distiller can make spirit out of anything that will ferment and they didn't have too much trouble adapting to corn. But, logically, if both rye and malted barley were available (and they both were) why would distillers in the collonial period distill rye more than any other grain?

In May, 1936, Spirits Magazine ran an article about the leading distillers who returned to work in the Kentucky whiskey industry after Prohibition. The surnames of the featured distillers were Beam, Bixler, Blair, Brown, Coffey, Cummins, Dant, Dowling, Hawkins, Hayden, Hollenbach, Ice, Johnson, Labrot, McGill, McGowan, McKenna, Medley, Ripy, Thompson, Wathen.

mier
05-29-2007, 11:27
If you have found the article can you send me a copy of it?Always interesting.Eric.

mier
06-22-2007, 01:27
Last week the European parlement decided that the name "jenever" is a protected name as are oude,jonge,corenwijn,graanjenever and dubbelgebeide.It means that only distillations coming from one certain aera can claim the name.These regions are ,Germany(Lowersaxonyregion of Ost-Friesland),the Netherlands,including Friesland(but they can use the name Friesche as well),Belgium(also here some regions can use their regional names ,4 regions and villages)the French speaking region have also the name Patak for jenever which is not protected,and the region of French-Flanders.Also the chech-slivovitch and the Greek ouzo are from now on protected names only to be used in those countries.Eric.

Gillman
06-22-2007, 03:35
Thanks for that. I thought the name in the French-influenced areas was "peket", which is an interesting term. There is a theory it is derived from the English word "picket", i.e., the kind of hammer coal miners used to use, with thus a mordant reference to its effect if you take too much, and in fact was popular in coal-mining areas in Wallonia and Flanders. It may though be a Picardian argot word of some kind. To my taste this was a standard young genever gin, but quite good and various makers had (and no doubt still have) their own approach. Patak must be yet another variant local name or pronunciation. I heard too that in these latest decisions, the term vodka was not reserved as such to specific countries like Poland or the other nations traditionally associated with its manufacture and use, but if not made from cereals and potatos, the fermentable source (e.g. grapes) must be indicated on the label. This seems a fair compromise and apparently all the countries agreed except Poland, whcih was outvoted.

Gary

mier
06-22-2007, 05:19
There are 2 names i know they use in Wallonia Patak used around Leuven/Louvain and Petek in other parts of French-Belgium and no doubt there are more names,also in the Dutch/Flanderslanguage there are a lot of names given to Jenever.In the Vodka case Poland wanted to claim the name because it is a original drink from their country but that wasn`t granted to them because their are leads but no hard evidence and because of other EECcountries also make it.And Russia was protesting against it so this came out as a compromise.Eric.

Gillman
06-22-2007, 06:39
Yes, and I think it is a fair compromise. It is true Poland can lay a reasonable claim to having invented vodka, and its expertise is undoubted, but vodka has been made for too long elsewhere and due to its neutral nature (more or less) it seems unfair to me to prevent those who use non-cereals to make it from using the term provided they tell you on the label what it is made from.

I heard the term peket used in the Meuse valley and products sold there were labelled with that spelling. Clearly though there are variant spellings and pronunciations, depending on the area, as you say.

I can't recall now where I saw this, but in an 1800's collection of drink recipes in English, the term "picket" was used for a kind of rough brandy so the term probably is or was used in different parts of Northern Europe to mean a young spirit. Another term used in French Flanders (and elsewhere in France I am sure) for a hard local drink is "gnole", alors le peket est la gnole du pays Meusien, et ainsi de suite....

Best use of young French genever I saw in my tourney of the French Nord some years ago: in a "bistouille", which is coffee to which genever, rum and brandy were added. I was told (this in Arras) that it had to have those three additions. No doubt each small area had its version, maybe each village. Another person told me you couldn't drink it until a centime (small coin) placed at the bottom of the coffee cup became visible again. The French have come up with some interesting refinements in the domain of alcoholic beverages. :)

Gary

mier
06-22-2007, 06:56
Overhere in the Netherlandic area including North-France and Ost-Friesland there are so many variations on what to do in your coffee,in my town we have Leidencoffee,a mix of cinnamonliquer,young Leidenjenever and cream while 5 miles further they use berriejenever,it`s to much to name them all but you should come over here to tour the area and try them,some are nice while others are not worth to be mentioned but i still think it is strange that there are so many varieties here ,afterall it is a small piece of land altogether.Eric.

TBoner
06-22-2007, 08:23
Y
Best use of young French genever I saw in my tourney of the French Nord some years ago: in a "bistouille", which is coffee to which genever, rum and brandy were added. I was told (this in Arras) that it had to have those three additions. No doubt each small area had its version, maybe each village. Another person told me you couldn't drink it until a centime (small coin) placed at the bottom of the coffee cup became visible again. The French have come up with some interesting refinements in the domain of alcoholic beverages. :)

Gary

I read about this same thing in a forum over at eGullet. The description there went like this.

Take a demitasse coffee cup. Place a dime in the bottom. Pour in strong coffee until the dime disappears. Pour in genever until it reappears. Sip at your own pace.

I enjoy the ritual and refinement of things like this, or even the careful making of a good cocktail. It adds to the enjoyment of drinking and makes it an experience rather than just consumption.

Gillman
06-22-2007, 08:28
Yes, it is amazing to see the variety in such practices. It must arise from the fact (in olden times) of relative isolation of these places. Today, when everyone (more or less) everywhere knows what a "mojito" is, it is cool to see that these old regional drinks and variations survive. I do hope that jenever and its variants survive, even flourish, and that shochu does in Japan, and so forth. It would be a pity if everyone drank the same 5 drinks around the world. It is noteworthy that economic development both regional and international does not always result in such standardisation. Craft beer has recovered in large parts of Europe in the last 30 years, for example. This is partly due to publicity of these treasures by international writers but also it comes from a revival of local interest, the "confrereries" and so forth.

SB is an American confrererie, fraternity in other words (but not literally since there are numerous female members), a gathering of like-minded people. Today though, the confrereries can be international in composition.

Gary