Genievre, genever, peket or jenever are names given to the juniper-flavored traditional and national liquor of Belgium and the Netherlands. In the English-speaking countries, it is also known as Hollands or Dutch gin. The drink is quite popular in Belgium and the Netherlands as well as in nearby German and French regions. Jenever is more flavorful than the usual gins as some of its basic ingredients include maize, malted barley, and rye.
Production of Jenever
Jenever is prepared by using a blend of two different spirits. Moutwijn or malt wine is the first spirit that adds a distinctive flavor to the drink. It is sort of an unaged whiskey that is produced by triple or even quadruple pot-distillation of a mixture of various cereals such as corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. Following the process of the final distillation, moutwijn is reduced to around forty-seven percent alcohol by volume, which is a comparatively lower distillation strength. It results in the spirit obtaining more malty flavors from its primary ingredients. The first distillation is known as “ruwnat,” while the second and third distillations are called “enkelnat” and “bestnat” respectively. The fourth and optional distillation is called “korenijn.”
The second spirit is prepared similarly to the preparation of most London Dry gins. A neutral spirit that is a very high-strength vodka is redistilled with the method of botanical flavorings such as caraway, angelica, coriander, orris and juniper. In the end, these two spirits are mixed and blended. The quantity of the first spirit used varies with relevance to the style of the jenever that is being prepared. Until the end of the 1800s, the drink was only malt wine, and that is still considered as traditional jenever, but after the invention of the continuous still, flavored spirit was added to malt wine to produce a clean and neutral spirit.
Various styles of Jenever
Basically, there are four styles of jenever including oude, jonge, korenwijn and fruit jeveners. While all these styles are different in the botanicals used and the quantity of malt wine they contain, each of them must have at least a particular proportion of malt wine which is specified by the law.
Jonge literally translates to young, so jonge jenever is a modern and young drink. It was first introduced in the 1950s in response to the customer’s demand for a light-flavored and more mixable drink. It consists of the least percentage of malt wine than all other jenever styles, which is only about five percent. Usually, it also has very few botanicals such that juniper can be barely detected in some brands. Jonge jenever must not contain more than fifteen percent of malt wine. It should have at least thirty-five percent alcohol by volume and a maximum of ten grams of sugar in one liter. If the label of the drink says it is grain jenever or graanjenever, the used neutral spirits are hundred percent grain-based.
The word oude literally means old, but it is not necessary for oude jenevers to be aged. In fact, they are called by that name because they are traditional and older as compared to the other styles. They are prepared by using more botanicals than the jonge jenevers. The recipe and proportion of ingredients in the drink vary from one brand to the other, but the basic aroma of myrrh and aloe are common in all oude jenevers. The traditional-styled jenever must consist of at least fifteen percent of malt wine and a maximum of twenty grams of sugar in one liter. It should be at least thirty-five percent alcohol by volume. If the label on the bottle mentions grain jenever or graanjenever, the neutral spirits that are used must be one hundred percent grain based. Usually, oude jenevers are not aged, but if the label specifies aging, it must have been aged in a barrel of seven hundred liters or less for at least a year.
Korenwijn (corn wine)
Korenwijn, which is translated as corn wine, is the third category of jenevers. It must have at least fifty-one percent of malt wine and a maximum of twenty grams of sugar in one liter. Korenwijn should be at least thirty-eight percent alcohol by volume. Similar to oude jenever, it must be aged in a barrel of seven hundred liters for at least one year.
Just like the name suggests, fruit jenevers contain flavors of various fruits. They are a modern drink that gained popularity following the Second World War. Fruit jenever is a mixture of fruit and a little malt wine and has noticeable botanical characteristics.
The Belgians and Dutch drink it neat in cold glasses. Kopstoot, which is pronounced as ‘cop-stout,’ is a traditional Dutch method and it literally means ‘a blow for your head.’ Simply put, you can have a shot of ice-cold jenever from a small tulip-shaped glass and then take a sip of beer. Similar to vodka, jonge jenever can be mixed with soda, cola or tonic. The percentage of juniper in a few brands is too low, so individuals who do not like the taste of London Dry gin might enjoy a jonge jenever and tonic. Moreover, some people prefer mixing jenever with bitters. They splash a couple of drops of bitters in an old-fashioned glass and rotate it to coat. Next, they fill the glass with chilled jenever and add ice. This style of serving is related to British pink gin.
Best Jenever Brands
Citadelle Reserve Gin is prepared by aging it in seasoned French oak barrels that give the drink a smooth feel and a high-quality flavor. It was created in 2008 and has been rewarded with the title of the Best Jenever Gin Brand.
Diep 9 Young Grain Genever Gin is produced in small copper pots. The drink has an oily appearance and a color that is quite similar to sap. You will experience the aroma of vanilla and cinnamon when drinking this jenever. It has a warm finish that gives a tingling feeling on the palate.