7 Genever Brands: Gin, But Not As We Know It!


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Although juniper is a mandatory ingredient, genever is not as close to gin as you may think. The best genever brands have assured a comeback of a spirit that’s not quite gin and not quite a malt whiskey.

There are also several spellings; jenever, jeneva, geneva, genièvre, genever, and ginebra. Genever is predominantly made in Holland and Belgium, and a Dutch barman told me that they pronounce it JE-NEE-VAH (like the Swiss City).

Best Genever Brands

The best genever brands combine crisp juniper flavours with flowers, herbs, spices and the maltiness of whiskey. Here are 7 tasty genever’s to explore.

1. Wenneker Oude Proever Oude Genever

Wenneker Oude Proever Oude Genever
Credit: Wenneker

Overview

  • Distiller: Wenneker
  • ABV: 36% (72 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Wenneker was established in 1693 and is now distributed to over 50 countries worldwide. The award-winning Oude Proever is carefully crafted with over three centuries of knowledge; the main ingredients consist of fine grains, malt spirits, and juniper berries.

The ingredients are soaked in the distillate for three days in copper pots before being mixed with malt spirit, grain alcohol, and water and matured for several years in oak barrels.

On The Nose

The aromas open with fresh juniper (almost like a London Dry Gin) and a slight peppery kick, followed by sweet caramel and subtle cooking spices.

On The Palate

Fresh juniper and citrus peel lead to a middle of dark rich spices. While the finish is medium with hints of berries, every sip has a sweet ending.

Best Served

Best enjoyed neat at room temperature in a tulip-shaped glass, or if you prefer, fill a rock glass with a few ice cubes to chill it.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Bols Genever Barrel Aged

Bols Genever Barrel Aged
Credit: Bols

Overview

  • Distiller: Bols
  • ABV: 42% (84 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Produced by the oldest active distillery in Amsterdam, Bols is a leader in the craft of genever. Myself and Andrew are making plans to visit the Bols genever experience as it looks super fun!

This triple distilled genever is then rested in French oak limousine casks for 18 months for extra smoothness and sweetness for the ultimate sipper or cocktail base.

On The Nose

Vibrant fresh pine aroma of juniper, fruits and smooth woody notes.

On The Palate

Juniper and smooth wood upfront. The taste of malt and warm spices mid-palate lingers off to sweet tropical fruits and a further blast of juniper.

Best Served

To fully enjoy the fruity, complex flavours, it is best served as an old-fashioned. Pour into a rocks glass filled with ice, add sugar syrup and angostura bitters finished with a twist of orange zest.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. De Borgen Holland New-Style Genever

De Borgen Holland Genever Gin
Credit: De Borgen

Overview

  • Distiller: De Borgen
  • ABV: 40.8% (81.6 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Distilled by a family-owned distillery that has spanned four generations since 1888, De Borgens crafts small batches of genever style in the north of the Netherlands.

The new distillation methods introduced in the 19th century have allowed them to craft new style genever with cleaner, crisper, and more intense flavours combined with old malt spirits and aged in sherry oloroso casks.

On The Nose

Aromas of herbs and juniper are beautifully enveloped with floral fragrances of orange blossom with a hint of anise.

On The Palate

Crisp juniper, aniseed, and lemon peel upfront. Sweet almond flavours and hints of malt and nutmeg in the middle. The finish is long but soft, with the tingling sweetness of liquorice and a hint of malt.

Best Served 

To truly enjoy the complexity of this new style genever try it with ginger ale and a squeezed lime wedge, then serve over ice (see my photo).

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Rutte Old Simon Genever

Rutte Old Simon Genever
Credit: Rutte

Overview

  • Distiller: Rutte & Son
  • ABV: 35% (70 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Named after the founder Simon Rutte, this genever is a remake of the original recipe made in 1872 with its closely kept secret on 13 botanicals infused with three-fifths grain alcohol and blended with two-fifths malt wine.

The known ingredients are roasted walnuts and hazelnuts, coriander, angelica, mace, liquorice, and carob, which are predominantly found on the nose of this genever.

On The Nose

Roasted nuts, fresh juniper pine, baked orchard fruits and the faint hint of spices.

On The Palate

Initially soft with flavours of roasted walnuts, hazelnuts and mild spices. Juniper dominates the crisp middle (much like Bombay Sapphire), and the finish becomes sweeter as cooked fruits make themselves known.

Best Served 

There are many ways to enjoy this little gem, but I think it should be enjoyed neat and paired with an array of charcuterie for spectacular explosions of flavours.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Boomsma Jonge Jenever

Boomsma Jonge Jenever
Credit: Boomsma

Overview

  • Distiller: Boomsma
  • ABV: 35% (70 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Clear

Review

A small humble distillery founded in 1883 by Dirk Boomsma was built at the foot of the Oldehover tower. Five generations later, Boomsma still produces genever in the traditional method using copper pot stills and only natural ingredients.

This Jonge Jenever is made with 100% grain alcohol and malt wine. Botanicals of juniper, coriander, citrus, and mandarin are all double distilled to give it its light and elegant flavours.

On The Nose

The aromas are fresh and light, with hints of piney juniper, coriander and citrus.

On The Palate

The slightly sweet notes of malted vanilla come upfront before notes of juniper and zesty mandarin shine through, with a moderate finish of smooth woody notes.

Best Served 

Enjoy the freshness of this Jonge Jenever mixed with apple juice and a dash of lime garnished with slivers of apple while you enjoy the simple moments of life.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Bobby’s Schiedam Jenever

Bobby's Schiedam Jenever
Credit: Bobby’s

Overview

  • Distiller: Bobby’s Gin Company
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Armed with their grandfather’s Pinang Raci recipe, two grandsons explore the tradition their grandfather started in 1951 by infusing genever with Indonesian spices. 

With the help of master distiller Ad van der Lee and years of trial and error, Bobby Schiedam Jenever was launched in 2016, depicting an Indonesian ikat weaving design on the bottle.

On The Nose

Initially bready, followed by odours of fresh citrus with hints of exotic spices enticing the nose.

On The Palate

Malty with toasted hazelnuts and a delicious sweetness I could not quite put my finger on. The juniper becomes more evident mid-palate with a finish that reveals a burst of lemongrass with ginger, cardamom, and pepper spiciness.

Best Served

Best served as a Jenever Spring cocktail, with spicy ginger ale and a sprig of mint, chilled over ice for a refreshing contrast of sweetness and spice. 

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Zuidam 5 Year Old Zeer Oude Genever

Zuidam 5 Year Old Zeer Oude Genever
Credit: Zuidam

Overview

  • Distiller: Zuidam
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Colour: Soft Gold

Review

An idea from two brothers created the Zuidam distillery in 1975 to produce small exclusive batches and launched their small distillery with one copper pot still located in the Netherlands.

Zuidam 5-year-old Zeer genever is produced from a selection of malted barley, rye, and corn triple distilled after a week of fermentation.

This genever is then infused with a selection of botanicals and aged for five years in young oak casks. These are single-barrel releases to keep the exclusivity of each barrel.

On The Nose

Whisky and warm oak notes duel with contrasting crisp juniper and fresh floral aromas.

On The Palate

Toffee and vanilla upfront with faint clues to cassia bark and honey. Mid-palate brings notes of crisp juniper and baked apples. A touch of cinnamon and anise on the medium finish.

Best Served

Although this exclusive genever would benefit from being sipped neat to enjoy the complexity of flavours, it will also do well in a Holland Fizz, with egg whites elevating the complexity of the underlying botanicals.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

Seperator

Ingrid’s Top Pick

best genever brand

De Borgen Holland Genever Gin

My top pick genever is De Borgen Holland New-Style Genever because the duality of the crips juniper and anise works so well with the deeper malt and nutmeg flavours.

Genever Q&A

We even found genever in the Bourgogne des Flandres beer distillery we visited
We even found genever in the Bourgogne des Flandres beer distillery we visited!

Different Ways To Spell Genever

There are various ways to spell the name of genever; jenever, jeneva, geneva, genièvre, genever, and ginebra are all correct spellings depending on the country and region.

What Type Of Spirit Is Genever?

Genever is a cross between whisky and gin; it is blended from two very different spirits, a neutral spirit infused with botanical and juniper and a malt wine distilled from grain such as rye, corn, and wheat.

The designation of origin protects it, and it can only be produced in Holland, Belgium, two northern French departments, and two German federal states.

What Does Genever Taste Like?

Genever leads more with a palate from its base ingredients of the malt wine, but the two styles of Jonge (young) and Oude (old) can also vary.

Jonge genever has a more neutral taste with juniper and malt wine aromas, while the Oude genever is smoother with more robust flavours of malt wine and, if beneficial, can be aged in oak barrels which adds smoky, woody notes.

Conclusion

Genever & Ginger Beer Is Ingrid's Favourite combintion
Genever & Ginger Ale Is My Favourite

More than the sum of their parts, the best genever brands create an enticing marriage of flavours that lies somewhere between a mild whiskey and a crisp gin.

Myself and Andrew first tried genever on a trip to Bruges in Belgium and noticed that this forgotten traditional spirit is becoming increasingly popular there.

And not just Belgium; distilleries all over the planet are bringing back the craft of making this exquisite and unique blend. Will genever become as big as gin? only time will tell.

Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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