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  1. #1
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    Dutch Gin/ Genever/ Jenever

    While in Europe I got a chance to try this category of spirits. It was quite interesting. I had heard of the traditional jonge(young) and oude(old) versions and took pleasure in trying them and attempting to practice the traditional method of imbibing (a small chilled glass filled to overflowing with ice cold genever...spilling any is a no-no). However, The real magic came from discovering the flavored versions (so what if these are traditionally considered "women's drinks").

    When one of the girls on the trip with me in Amsterdam said she wanted to try some as well, we walked up to the bar and ordered two of the oude genever, well the bartender said that women don't drink that and produced a bottled of black currant flavored genever and poured it for her and even told her she didn't have to shoot it. Upon shooting mine and her sipping and taking hers back to the table, the bartender than brought over several more bottles and glasses and proceeded to pour a full pour of each of the flavors he had in the house...about 6 drinks in all...on the house!!! Well we passed these around with the rest of the group and we all took a bit of a liking to them. These are not as strong as the regular genevers varying from 20 to 30% alcohol while still being full bodied and dry finished spirits as opposed to sweet liqueurs. I remember trying a lemon, an apple and a pear, but the rest escape me-though one of them had a corn flavor that reminded me of Georgia Moon, only fuller bodied.

    Now a question: Does anyone know if the flavored genevers exist in the states? Or someplace with reasonable prices that will ship from overseas? I attempted to pick some up while in Amsterdam but the only liquor store I came across was closed for the season!
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  2. #2
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    I can't help you with your question, but I have one for you. I saw two bottles of Genever in a store here. I didn't get them today. I was wondering if this is flavored with botonicals as is British Gin, or not. I seemed to recall that it is not, but couldn't be sure.
    Ed
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  3. #3
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    Yes they are, however the base is quite different. Some are a blend of rye and malt others all malt. I'm assuming here they mean barley malt, but I guess it could mean rye malt. These are distilled to a low proof. Depending on the quality of the bottling some are distilled with the botanicals much like top flight London Dry gins. Others use the same low-end compounding methods used in bulk-style gins.

    The differences between the young and old styles I'm a bit iffy on, there seem to be production differences other than just some aging, possibly there may be some use of neutral spirits in the young. Whatever it is the young version is quite effervecent and I found that much of the aroma even when shooting it finds its way to you nose(one of the guys in the group used so many hand motions to describe this it looked like he had a squid latched on to the front of his face LOL). The old is much more subtle and smooth, with flavors that just seem to match the ambiance of the traditional bruin(brown) bars of Amsterdam-these bars have no TV few have music and all have old tobacco stained walls.

    One thing to note, they always keep both the bottle and the glassware for these in a freezer, yet the flavors still come through. I have no idea what they would be like at warmer temps, nor if they would mix well into type type of cocktail, though I think the flavored versions could be used quite successfully in some mixed drinks.
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  4. #4
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    Tim, the oude style (old) meant originally the kind of genever originally made, not a long-matured one (necessarily).

    Oude genever (the term genever or geneva refers to juniper, not Switzerland) was distilled mostly from rye and malt. Sometimes rye, corn and malt were used. Some producers used wheat with or instead of corn. As you said, this was a low-proof (pot still, originally) distillate. Juniper berries were added, either distilled or compounded with the spirit, to mask the strong feinty taste of young rye spirit.

    Later, this type of spirit was highly rectified in column stills and for that purpose any cereals were used (as for grain whisky in Scotland).

    Oude genever later became a blending of the two types, as occured in Scotland with grain and malt whiskies.

    The original oude is called by experts there "moutwijn" (maltwine). Little is sold straight: most is used for blending with high proof cereal or molasses-derived spirit. In the later 1800's, it was found rectified spirit could be made even more cheaply from molasses or sugar beet.

    So there is a kind of gradation of quality (depending too how you define quality) from highest to lowest, as follows:

    - the original heavy-bodied rye spirit often juniper-flavoured (although some wasn't juniper flavoured - other flavourings were used too, e.g., coriander, lemon, which inspired ultimately the flavoured types you referred to)

    - cereal spirit highly rectified. A variant is called kornwijn or cornwijn, this means 100% cereal spirit with no addition of molasses spirit and no juniper taste (this from memory but I think I am right)

    - the molasses/sugar beet spirits. These are cheapest of all to make and possibly the blandest to drink.

    Most genever today is of the second and third kinds, i.e., GNS or MNS, basically. Some is flavoured and this is similar to flavoured vodka. Many have juniper added, e.g. the classic jonge de Kuyper. So jonge (young) means the later, highly rectified type of genever, not unaged genever - although most jonge genever is unaged.

    Some genever, of high quality, has some maltwine blended in and this has a rye tang. Anyone who knows rye whiskey and Canadian whisky can see the connection.

    Some maltwine is sold uncut. I am familiar with Fillier's brands in Belgium although they are somewhat neutral in taste and take considerable character from oak aging - these use no juniper. I would guess Filliers distills at between 160 and 190 proof but don't know for sure. In the Flemish corner of France, Wambrechies and Loos are two brands which offer amongst their range (or used to) the true uncut oude genever and those examples are very good. Houlle's is the third one; these three brands from the far north of France near the Belgian frontier are made by small independent companies. I should mention that Wambrechies and Loos merged a couple of years ago but the separate lines are continued.

    I don't doubt that some flavoured genevers are good and this would derive from long local experience but all of those are 100% GNS or something quite similar as far as I know.

    Anyone again who knows straight rye and Canadian can see numerous connections between them and the original oude genever. The Hotalings rye whiskey of Anchor, 11 years old aged in reused charred wood, has a juniper tang either from some addition of juniper (the house also makes gin) or just the natural effects of maturation of 100% low-proof rye malt spirit. In my view, the Hotalings is very close to one kind of genever made originally in Holland. I refer to Byrn's Practical Distilling book from the 1860's in Philadelphia which describes in detail the contemporary Dutch methods and their lineage. In fact if you want to make your own oude of the modern kind, add 10-20% Hotalings to a good rye vodka. That will remind you strongly of those brown bars and the best oude genever. If you want, add some lemon or a dash of Curacao; they did in the 1860's. Why, darned if I won't do that tonight.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 07-27-2006 at 12:25.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the clarification Gary. Trying to learn this stuff after about six or so of the freshest Heineken you've ever tasted, is a bit of a challenge.

    Is much genever available in your area? I've been doing a bit or research trying to find out who ships to the states and have notices a few ship to Canada that don't ship here. DyKuyper(who lists flavors amoung its portfolio) for example has a seperate USA site that mentions nothing about genever whereas its international site says Corby is its distibutor in Canada. Bols(who seems to have the better malt based original style) on the other hand lists Remy America in New York as its genever distibutor in the USA with another company handling its liqueurs. Oh well, at least it's a start. I did notice an Austrailian site (nicks) that sells the flavors, but that is more than a tad cost prohibitive.
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  6. #6
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    Well, here I have seen de Kuyper, the regular unflavoured one. There are other de Kuyper products available here which may in effect be flavored genevers, I'll take a look. de Kuyper has always been popular in Quebec and if I am not mistaken, the one we have is made under license in Quebec, possibly at the former Schenley plant in Valleyfield, Quebec now owned by Barton Brands.

    Quebec was a heartland of the old geneva gin, ah yes. They called it "le gros gin". It was a survival of the old British Colonial days when geneva or Hollands or squareface as it was also called (after the bottle shape) was popular here. The taste for it may have come over to Quebec in the French era, possibly as ballast in ships (to be filled with furs and stones going home). (Michael Jackson makes this point in his first whisky book).

    Today, of the 7-8 brands that existed in Quebec 30 years ago (all Dutch imports except for de Kuyper), only one is left: de Kuyper. It was an old drink regarded as rotgut (wrongly). No one cared about it. I used to explain all this to older people, French and other, and their eyes would glaze over. Who cares about some funny old drink my grandfather may have liked, hein?

    I have a bottle which blends a few Dutch and Belgian genevers, de Kuyper from Quebec and some clean vodka and it rocks. "C'est la revanche d'un enthousiast, ou plutot un romantique, n'est-ce pas..?

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 07-27-2006 at 12:38.

  7. #7
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    Well, lets hope that as consumers rediscover the spirits of their forefathers this one get revived as well. A short while ago real ale was basically dead, gin was relegated to the bottom shelf, rye was unheard of.

    Thinking about it now, the Pama that everyone has raved about might be closer to the flavored genevers that I tasted in Amsterdam than it is to any other spirit on the market (I'm basing this on the taste decriptions that I have read, as I have yet to get around to trying any.)
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  8. #8
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    Re: Dutch Gin/ Genever/ Jenever

    I'm resurrecting this because I've recently learned of Boomsma Genever, a brand sold stateside that I hope to be able to purchase soon. I'm wondering if anyone has any more input on genever in general or on this brand in particular. I'm definitely intrigued, as I think at the very least it'll make an interesting variation on my typical martini. Thing is, I don't know that I'll have enough money or room in my suitcase for both the jonge and oude versions. At any rate, input is appreciated.

    Also, if anyone's interested (maybe I'm the last to know?), Boomsma is available from Binny's.

  9. #9
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    Re: Dutch Gin/ Genever/ Jenever

    Boomsma is also available at Specs, though I have yet to remember to put it on my list when I go. Also there is an importer of Breackman's Jenever in Connecticut (Brabo International), they get the flavored ones as well, but they only seem to distribute in NY and CT.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Dutch Gin/ Genever/ Jenever

    Well, that reminded me that I have a bottle of Boomsma Oude in my bunker - which I have just fetched and poured into my Glencairn at room temperature.

    It seems more like a whiskey than a gin - think Irish whiskey with a whisper of juniper. I definitely like this! The label indicates wheat and malt spirits (but 100% neutral spirits, so it's obviously distilled at high proof), and at least one year of aging in oak (but not whether it's new or used cooperage - but I would expect used bourbon barrels).

    With the first few sips, the finish was short, but it seems to grow as I drink more - sweet, with that hint of juniper hovering in the background. It's very different from Plymouth or London Dry gins.

    I'll have to put the bottle in the freezer and try it in a more traditional manner as well - and maybe try a martini with it.

    I don't have the Jonge, so I can't compare that with the Oude.
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