We spend a good amount of time with gin at Drink Spirits, but usually the gins fall in either the London Dry category (like Beefeaters) or the explosively growing New American gin category (which includes gins like Bluecoat and Organic Nation). One category we don’t get much of is Genever.
Genever is the granddaddy of gin. Invented in Holland, genever is a blend of grain spirits, botanicals and malt wine. Originally created as medicinal, genever got its nickname ‘Dutch courage’ due to the consumption of it by the Dutch army. Genever made its way to England as an alternative to French cognac and became the base from which modern styles of gin evolved.
Genever is less known than gin in the US as there are very few companies that have brought a genever product to market. The most notable is Bols Genever. Based on a 1820s recipe, Bols Genever is made from a neutral spirit base distilled with botanicals and mixed with more than 50% malt wine which is made from long fermented rye, corn and wheat triple distilled in a copper pot still.
Bols Genever (84 proof $40 / 750ml) – Right from the aroma it’s clear that this is not gin. With a malty sweet nose more closely resembling a white whiskey, this genever lacks the pine punch you get with gin. The nose reminds us of a yeasty Belgian beer, beautifully sweet, soft and thick . Even at 84 proof there’s almost no alcohol vapor coming off the nose. The entry is a terrific blend of sweet and savory. The yeasty, malty sweet notes from the nose carry through perfectly and are harmonized with slightly bitter, earthy undertones from the botanicals, which includes hints of nutmeg and pine bark. This all comes together to create a wonderful symphony of flavor. The finish is a nice gradual release of flavor leaving the slightest hint of beer-like, malty, yeasty goodness surrounded by a cool mouth feel. Expertly distilled Bols Genever is exceedingly enjoyable from nose to finish. Far superior to most of the white whiskies we’ve tasted (see Putting White Dog Down), this genever is well balanced, well rounded and absolutely delicious.
Bols Genever – a refreshingly unique option for people who may not love the punch of gin and a much better alternative to white whiskey, its wonderful balance of flavors makes it enjoyable to be sipped or as a lead note in a cocktail – Very Highly Recommended