Tales from the Work Floor!

Aged gin? Go for genever instead

With more and more gins on the market, some distillers are looking at new ways to stand out. Aging gin in barrels is becoming more popular, so no wonder we got some requests from customers to make an aged gin. But in this case the customer isn’t always right. We like a different approach. And yes, it’s steeped in tradition, but more important: it’s a flavour-based approach.

Most gin aficionados around the world slowly learn that gin was based on the ancient Dutch drink genever. During the 16th and 17th century the English slowly developed their own recipes, based on the juniper flavoured spirits from The Netherlands. Of course, it helped that they had a Dutch king from 1689 to 1702. The English gin developed into a fresher, much more citrus based drink, especially the London Dry Style that came into vogue in the 19th century.

Dutch genever on the other hand has always been a grain based spirit, where the botanicals like juniper add to the flavour. Genever has many different versions, from the young genever which is very smooth and neutral to the more complex old genever. But here’s the catch: all genevers contain malt spirit. And these malty flavour lend themselves extremely well to wood aging. Some matured genevers even take on the character of a good whisky. Not surprising, as both are grain-based.

So why take away the freshness of your gin with woody notes, if there’s nothing there to compliment it? Instead, go for a genever that actually embraces the wood and keeps the juniper in the front. Especially if you are making whisky or vodka from grain as well, you have all the tools to create a great genever. First, create some new make spirit with a good malty flavour. The distill a great, lighter style gin. And finally blend the two together and let it rest in the barrel for a couple of months to years.

In the end the customer who was looking for an aged gin fell in love with genever. So much even, that they opted for one of the older styles, called Koornwijn (the Dutch word for “barley wine”). There’s 60% new make spirit in their genever and after just four months in the barrel it already surpasses most blended whiskies.  If you want to know more about genever, just reach out to Recipe Development at iStill and we can help you create a great new drink. After all, we are Dutch.


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