Looking to take your gin drinks up a notch? Try reaching for a bottle of the traditional Dutch spirit Genever instead.
Though gin is most closely associated with juniper, its forefather genever is named for the berry since “jenever” means juniper in Dutch.
Genever long dominated this segment of the market, while gin only rose to prominence in the 19th century with the development of the London Dry style. In contrast, genever is generally softer and sweeter than most gins. Gin is always made with one type of alcohol, but genever is made with at least two different types of spirits. Though gin is usually crafted from a grain spirit, it can also be made from grapes or potatoes much like vodka. Genever can only be made from grains with juniper added to the mash during the second distillation.
Boomsma has made its genever from the same recipe since the company was founded by Dirk Boomsma in 1883. “For Genever you have to add malt spirit, a traditionally pot still distilled spirit of wheat and barley distilled twice till 47% ABV,” says Chantoine Boomsma, fifth generation co-owner of the company. “At Boomsma we also add another type of grain alcohol called Korn spirit. This is also traditionally pot distilled with a mash of wheat, barley and rye, triple distilled till 74% ABV. If you blend the three spirits together you get a much broader base to carry your genever,” Boomsma says.
Genever can either be “jonge” (young) or “oude” (old), which is not an age statement, but a designation of whether the newer 20th century distillation process has been used, as in the jonge, or the older traditional style was employed. In addition, jonge genever contains no more than 15% malt wine and 10 grams of sugar per liter, while oude jenever contains at least 15% malt wine and no more than 20 grams of sugar per liter. Boomsma takes the process a step further with its aged Old Genever line, which are aged in either ex-bourbon, ex-port or ex-Bordeaux barrels for 1, 3, 5 or even 10 years. These complex genevers make for great ingredients in cocktail or they can be enjoyed on their own.
The final distinction is that gin can be distilled anywhere in the world, but genever holds Protected Designation of Origin status in the EU and can only be produced in the Netherlands, Belgium and two areas in northern French and two northwestern German states.
While gin and tonics have become all the rage around the world, genever offers many opportunities for bartenders to expand their repertoire. Try subbing genever for gin to add another layer of flavor to a Negroni or Martinez. Young genever works well with fresh fruit juices, while a barrel aged genever makes a great substitute for whiskey in a Sour or Old Fashioned. You can also offer it as a sipper, especially ones like the Boomsma Old Genever aged 5 or 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels.
For more information, visit www.bonnete.com, BCI Bonnete, U.S. importers of Boomsma.