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Genever Timeline 2019



Philip Duff's timeline of important events in the history of genever, from 1269 to the present day.

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Genever Timeline 2019

  1. 1. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 1 Genever predates both whisky and gin; it is unaged whisky’s complex grand-parent! 1269: First mention of juniper-based health-related tonics and medicines in Europe, in a Dutch publication Der Naturen Bloeme by Jacob van Maerlant te Damme. The spirit is based on distilled wine and juniper berries, and is a medicine. 1494: First written mention of recreational grain distilling, for whisky, Scotland - “To Brother John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt.”. Aqua vitae (in Gaelic, “uisce beatha”, which came to be called “whisky” in English) included botanicals as ingredients, just like genever, well into the 1800s. 1495: First written recipe for what we would recognize as a recreational juniper spirit, from a cookbook written in Dutch near Arnhem/Apeldoorn: Making Burned Wine. Based on lees wine cooked with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, galanga, ginger, grains of paradise, juniper and nutmeg, and cut with clean water or Hamburg beer. 1497: Korenbrandewijn (grain distillate), the older name for what came to be called genever, began to be taxed in Amsterdam. 1552: The Dutch-published Constelijck Distilleer Boek by Philippus Hermanni mentions “genever aqua vitae”, referring to juniper-infused brandy; apparently grape-based genever was the standard at the time. 1588: First mention of grain having replaced grape as a basis for genever distilling in Holland: in “A Guide To Distilling” by Dutchman Casper Jansz. Coolhaes. He wrote that korenbrandewijn (grain distillate with juniper) “in aroma and taste is almost the same as [grape] brandy-wine” and is “not only named brandywine but also drunk and paid for as brandywine” 1585: The Fall of Antwerp. Diaspora of Protestant refugees throughout Europe, with some interesting repercussions. 6,000 Flemish Protestants had already fled to London by 1570, paving the way for the genever/gin boom that followed later. Others moved in large numbers to La Rochelle in France, trading in sugar, spices and the regional wines and (later) brandy, which became Cognac.
  2. 2. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 2 1602: The Dutch United East Indies Company (VOC) founded; this grew to be the world’s largest company, with 50,000 employees spread around the globe. The sailors and officers spread the habit of drinking genever everywhere they went, and they received daily half-pint rations of genever in a specially measured pewter cup. 1611: Plat’s Delights for Ladies: Usquebath, or Irish aqua vitae: To every gallon of good aqua composita*, put two ounces of chosen liquorice bruised and cut into small pieces, but first cleansed of his filth, and two ounces of aniseeds that are cleaned and bruised… *Distilled wine. 1623: First use of “genever” in English, in Philip Massinger’s London play “The Duke of Milan”. A play on words in the text meant “geneva” (referring to a large print font, the type you would need to be able to read if you were drunk) became synonymous with “genever” in English. 1658 -1672: Franciscus Sylvius de le Boe becomes professor of medicine at Leiden University, Holland. Nowadays he is widely and incorrectly credited as having inventing genever, which was in fact already common when he was born in 1614. De le Boe, incidentally, was German, born in Hanover. The mix-up may have come about because previous Leiden intellectuals (see Coolhaes, 1588, above) distilled genever and similar products, and/or because de le Boe was a high-profile scientist both at home and abroad, corresponding with the likes of Sir Isaac Newton. 1672: The van Dale dictionary, Holland’s dictionary of reference, notes the first published use of the word “genever” in Holland, then spelled with a “g”. 1688: Willem III, a Dutch prince, ascends to the English throne as king, bans foreign (especially French) imports and lowers licence costs for distilling. Initially, what came to be called “gin” (as English people struggled with pronouncing “genever”) in England was an attempt to make genever. However, their lack of distilling expertise led gin distillers to quickly discard the all-important carefully-distilled grain distillate at the heart of genever called moutwijn (maltwine – which, to be clear, does not contain wine), and focus instead on infusing (usually poorly-made) neutral alcohol with botanicals, the latter to mask the impure and unpleasant flavour of the neutral spirits. Where genever is whisky-like and derives its flavour from masterful grain distillation and the use of subtle amounts of a small number of botanicals, this new “gin” got all its flavour from a large variety and amount of botanicals, using ten times the number and amount of botanicals than genever. Even so, due to poor technique and technology, the resulting gin was so harsh it was commonly sweetened and sold as Old Tom gin. Old Tom is thus the missing link between Dutch genever and English London-dry style gin, not because Dutch genever was sweet, but because Old Tom used sugar to hide the raw taste that would have been mellowed by well-made maltwine, had it been present.
  3. 3. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 3 1831: Continual distilling invented, but spreads relatively slowly. 1850s: “In the 1850s, the port of New York was clearing between 4500 and 6000 120-gallon pipes of genever a year (roughly equal to 2.7 to 3.6 million 750-milliliter bottles) as opposed to 10 to 20 pipes of English gin”. David Wondrich, Imbibe! Updated and Revised Edition, 2015 1862: The world’s first cocktail book, Jerry Thomas’s “The Bartender’s Guide” published in New York. Except where “Old Tom” gin is specifically mentioned, all mentions of “gin” actually refer to genever, which would have been 100% maltwine genever. “This makes perfect sense: in the days before the dominance of the dry Martini, when gin was drunk in slings, simple punches (think Collinses) or cocktails (the original kind, with bitters and sugar), the mellow, malty roundness of the "Hollands," as it was known, was preferable to the steely sharpness of a London dry gin, or even an Old Tom, which stood somewhere between the two styles.” David Wondrich, Imbibe!, 2007 Early 1800s (1): A process is created to extract molasses from sugarbeets, allowing for the creation of molasses alcohol much cheaper than previously. This process isn’t used widely for alcohol until after the Second World War. Late 1800s (2): Dry vermouth becomes all the rage in the USA, which sounded a death knell for genever, as genever (like any whisky-ish distillate) mixes poorly with dry vermouth. 1920 – 1934: US Prohibition spurs gin consumption and domestic production. 1950 onward: A new style of genever made using far less maltwine and much more neutral alcohol (typically grain neutral alcohol for the better brands and molasses neutral alcohol for the less expensive ones), is created and enjoys unbelievable popularity. To distinguish between this new style (which contains 1-3 % maltwine) and classic genever, this new style is called jonge (young-style) genever and the classic genever is renamed “oude” (old-style) genever. Neither “young” nor “old” refer to aging in any way. To this day, one brand of inexpensive jonge jenever outsells the entire vodka category in Holland, selling more than 3 million 9-liter equivalent cases per year. Currently, around 25% of all liquor sold in Holland is genever, and 98% of that genever is jonge, most of which is inexpensive and molasses- based.
  4. 4. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 4 1970s/1980s: Massive price wars in Holland drastically change how genever is made and sold. The vast majority of Dutch distilleries stop distilling maltwine (or stop distilling altogether) and outsource production to a handful of large-scale distillers, many of whom are in Belgium. At the time of writing, every large Dutch genever brand is currently an outsourced product, with maltwine very frequently sourced from Belgian distilleries, shipped to Holland, blended with neutral alcohol and nonetheless labelled and sold as “Made in Holland”. 1987: The Rainbow Room, NY relaunches sparking a US cocktail renaissance. 1995: The Atlantic Bar & Grill, London, launches with Dick Bradsell, sparking a cocktail renaissance in Europe. 2008: Genever (and Plymouth gin, and several other geographical indications (GI) of juniper spirits) gains protected status from the European Union in EU declaration 110/2008. Genever (or “jenever”, as it is spelled in Holland and Belgium, or “genièvre” as is common in France) may only be labeled as such and sold as such in the EU if it is made in Holland, Belgium, the departments 59 (Nord) and 62 (Pas-de-Calais) of France and the provinces Nordrhein- Westfalen and Niedersachsen of Germany. Furthermore, “Jonge” (young-style genever) and “oude” (old-style genever) may only be labeled and sold as such in Holland and Belgium.
  5. 5. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 5 Making Genever 1. Distill maltwine (moutwijn) Maltwine is distilled from a multi-grain mash of cereals, typically two or three of: rye, corn, barley and wheat. Until the end of the 1800s, maltwine was genever. The fermented mash of grains is distilled 3-4 times in a potstill. It must wind up between 46% and 48% ABV. Most brands cuts heads, hearts and tails. The first distillate is called ruwnat, the second distillate enkelnat, the third distillate bestnat, (which is in fact maltwine), and the optional fourth distillate korenwijn. Note: “korenwijn (here in the context of distilling maltwine, and spelled with a small “k”) should not be confused with Korenwijn (also spelled Korenwyn/Corenwijn/Corenwyn) in the context of a finished product. Korenwijn/Korenwyn/Corenwijn/Corenwyn is a finished-product genever that must contain at least 51% maltwine and be at a minimum of 38% ABV (76 proof). 2. Infuse botanicals separately Separately to the maltwine distilling, botanicals are infused into either neutral spirits or maltwine for several hours in a potstill that is slowly warmed to distill those botanicals with the alcohol. The traditional botanicals are juniper, and botanicals like angelica, ginger, orris, coriander, liquorice and hops. Genever is required to contain juniper, but does not have to have an apparent aroma or taste of it. 3. Blend the maltwine, the botanical-infused spirit and (if required) neutral spirits The creation of the continuous still in 1831 allowed for high quality neutral spirits to be made, which could be used to “stretch” the maltwine. The maltwine, botanical-infused spirits and neutral alcohol are blended according to which type of genever is being made: 100% maltwine genever contains 100% maltwine, botanical distillates redistilled with that maltwine and no neutral alcohol. There is progressively less maltwine (and more neutral alcohol) for maltwine genever, corn wine (Korenwijn), old-style and young-style genever, although all contain varying amounts of botanical distillates. If the genever is to get some aging, the maltwine and the infused spirits may be aged separately, then blended and married before bottling.
  6. 6. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 6 Habitual (non-legal) Definitions of Genever Although these are recognized terms, there are no legal requirements for their use. 100% Maltwine Genever (100% moutwijnjenever) 100% maltwine contains no neutral spirits and only maltwine; any botanicals are redistilled in the maltwine. The Seal of Schiedam, dating to 1902, is a voluntary accreditation for Schiedam pot-still distilleries making 100% maltwine genever according to the traditions of Schiedam, and distilleries who follow the process are eligible to put the Seal ( a paper label over the closure) on the bottles of 100% maltwine genevers they make. Currently only 2 distilleries in the world (Herman Jansen’s De Tweelingh distillery and the Schiedam Jenever Museum’s De Gekroonde Brandersketel distillery) are permitted to do so. Maltwine Genever (Moutwijnjenever) Maltwine genever that is not 100% maltwine generally refers to a genever with a high maltwine content, in any case higher than 51%, the rest being neutral spirits. Both 100% maltwine and maltwine genevers as a category have all but died out, yet it is maltwine genevers that Jerry Thomas was writing about, and mixing with, all those years ago. Maltwine genever was also almost certainly the base for the first Collins, said to date from 1800, and for every cocktail mentioning “gin” in the first-ever cocktail book, Jerry Thomas’ 1862 Bartender’s Guide. 100% maltwine and maltwine genevers are extremely rare even in Holland or Belgium nowadays and hardly any brands are exported. Aged Genever Apart from the fact that if a label mentions aging, it must have been for at least one year in a barrel of 700 liters or less, there is no legislation governing genever aging. As in all other categories of spirits, much experimentation is being done with aging and casks, and aging is a new phenomenon for genever.
  7. 7. Genever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever TimelineGenever Timeline www.realdutchgenever.com 7 Legal Definitions of Genever Corn wine (Korenwijn/Corenwyn) At least 51% maltwine (most brands contain 53% or so) At least 38% ABV* (76 proof) No more than 20 grams of sugar per liter. Doesn’t have to be aged but if it is, it must be for a minimum of one year and in barrels of less than 700 liters. Corenwyn is rare outside the Benelux countries and is excellent drunk on its own, in an Old- Fashioned or (because of the delicious maltiness) mixed into an Alexander instead of gin. Old-style Genever (Oude) At least 15% maltwine (most brands contain 17% or so) At least 30% ABV* (70 proof), although 35% is more common. No more than 20 grams of sugar per liter. Doesn’t have to be aged but if it is, it must be for a minimum of one year and in barrels of less than 700 liters. If the label mentions “graanjenever” or “grain genever”, then the neutral spirits are 100% grain-based. Old genever is the most common type seen outside Europe, and constitutes the bulk of sales to Argentina. Old genever makes a great Improved Holland Gin Cocktail or, indeed, a Collins. Young-style Genever (Jonge) At most 15% maltwine (most brands contain 1-3% or so) At least 30% ABV* (70 proof), although 35% is more common. No more than 10 grams of sugar per liter. Doesn’t have to be aged but if it is, it must be for a minimum of one year and in barrels of less than 700 liters. If the label mentions “graanjenever” or “grain genever”, then the neutral spirits are 100% grain-based. Fruit genevers Like sloe or damson gin in the UK, fruit genevers gained tremendous popularity in the post- WWII era and are bestsellers to this day: the Coebergh brand, with red fruits, is a staple drink in bars and discos in Holland. These tend towards emphasizing the fruit flavours and usually have no maltwine or botanical character at all. Fruit genevers are hugely popular and widely drunk with ice, juice or sodas. Hardly any are exported. * EU 110/2008 specifies a minimum of 30% ABV (60 proof) for all juniper spirit drinks, but generally only genevers from Belgium are less than 35% ABV (70 proof).