bols-genever

What is Genever?

During the events I host, I like to share some of the rich, vibrant history behind gin. Genever (or Jenever) is considered to be the starting point for gin in England, however it’s also a delicious spirit in it’s own right.

So, what is Genever?

Genever is a separate white spirit category that has been produced since the 16th Century.

It is a blend of malt wine, a botanical distillate containing coriander, caraway and aniseed, and juniper that has been distilled separately in malt wine rather than neutral grain spirit. Bols, the main producer of Genever, also add a secret ingredient from their ancient recipes.

Genever has Appellation D’origine Controlee status meaning it can only be produced in the Netherlands (and a few surrounding areas), putting it on par with champagne, cognac and Scottish single malt whisky. The status also determines how much malt wine and juniper the genever must contain.

Relationship to gin

When William of Orange, the Dutch king, ascended the English throne, he brought Genever over with him. Sadly the English distillers weren’t as skilled in the art of grain distillation and began using other distillates that they would flavour with juniper, creating early versions of gin.

What does it taste like?

Fresh, pine flavours with hints of spice rounded out with hints of yeast. It tastes a little like unaged whisky.

 Use in cocktails

In the 19th century the import of Genever to the USA was six times greater than gin and it was one of only 4 spirits recognised as accepted bases for cocktails (the others being brandy, whisky and rum). Genever is the main ingredient in some of the oldest cocktail recipes, like the Tom Collins and Holland House. It makes a fabulous ingredient in a Gin Crusta.

Should you try it?

Yes! Genever is a versatile spirit suitable for making cocktails or sipping, or if you prefer, you could do what the Dutch do and perform the kopstoot (headbutt). Genever is taken straight from the freezer and poured into tulip-shaped glasses. As the glass is so cold it’s best to instead leave the glass on the table, and sip directly, bending your back to get the drink in your mouth!

genever-crusta
Genever Crusta by The Barbershop, Sydney

G’Vine Gin

The creator of G’Vine gins, Jean-Sébastien Robicqeut was born and raised amongst vineyards so it’s not completely surprising that vines would inspire him to create a different style of gin. His bold choice to use vine flowers (fleurs de vigne) as a botanical ingredient resulted in two different styles of French gin. G’Vine Floraison and G’Vine Nouaison.(Floraison and Noauison refer to two different stages in the growth cycle of the vine. Floraison is the blossoming stage and Nouaison is the stage after where the first young berries appear.)

fleurs-de-vigne

The small, green flowers blossom on the Ugni Blanc vine for only 10-15 days. Pickers have to move quickly, otherwise they have to wait a full year! The delicate petals are then steeped in Ugni Blanc neutral spirit for several days before distillation. The other botanicals are separated into 4 flavour groups (sweet, spicy etc) and also steeped in grape spirit for 2-5 days. Each group of botanicals is then distilled separately before being blended together with water and more grape spirit before being distilled together in ‘Lily Fleur’, the G’Vine copper pot still.

G’Vine Floraison Gin

floraison-g'vine-gin

This is the gin to offer someone who claims not to like gin.  It has a floral and zesty scent and flavour with the juniper turned down quite low, so not for those of you who love a punchy junipery gin.

It’s perfect in a gin and tonic – how much do I love these Spanish-style halon glasses? I’ll definitely be sharing the Floraison love with friends. (I will convert them!)

Botanicals: ‘Floraison’ blossom, juniper, ginger root, liquorice, cassia bark, green cardamom, coriander, cubeb berries, nutmeg and lime.

ABV: 40%

G’Vine Nouaison Gin

Nouaison-g'vine-gin

Instead of using the blossom as a botanical in Nouaison, the tiny, green berries are used.  The rest of the distillation process is identical to the one used in the production of G’Vine Floraison, however the infusions are blended to different proportions so there is more of a juniper hit and it’s higher in ABV, making it more like traditional gins.

It’s bolder and spicier and much more to my juniper-loving taste. It stood up well in a dirty martini but works with a twist too.

Botanicals : ‘Nouaison’ berries, juniper, ginger root, liquorice, cassia bark, green cardamom, coriander, cubeb berries, nutmeg and lime.

ABV: 43.9%

I was gifted the bottle of G’Vine Floraison as a ‘Thank You’ for guest-judging a G’Vine cocktail competition in Melbourne. G’Vine kindly provided  Nouaison for review. 

 

Xoriguer Mahòn Gin

 

xoriguezgntTaking a little break from Aussie gins to introduce you to this little Spanish number, Xoriguer Mahòn Gin.

Pronounced ‘sho-ri-gair’, Xoriguer Mahòn Gin is produced in Menorca (a beautiful island off the Spanish mainland). I visited there a few years ago, but didn’t manage to fit in a visit to the distillery (might start saving for a return visit).

Xoriguer is one of only 2 gins in the world that has it’s own EU Designation of Origin, Plymouth gin is the other.

The bottle suggests something a little unrefined and gimmicky, but don’t be deceived!

It is floral in aroma and flavour with hints of citrus and an almost perfumed after-taste. It went very well with Fever tree tonic water and lots of lemon and lime slices.

I also created a martini with my fave Lillet and although a little on the sweet side, it made a delicious variation.

 

Country of Origin: Mahòn, Menorca, Spain

ABV: 38.5%

Price: Medium

Gin Mare

 

Definitely in my top 5, Gin Mare is so flavoursome you don’t need to put out nibbles when you serve it up to guests!

A full-bodied Meditteranean gin, it is distilled with olives, thyme, rosemary and basil in Barcelona, Spain.

You still get the hit of juniper when you smell the gin, but as you taste, the spicier notes of the herbs and other ingredients; cardamom, coriander, ginger berries and citrus fruits, come through. Those citrus fruits have been soaked in clay jars for up to a year in advance of distillation.

Gin Mare makes an excellent G&T. Refreshingly summery, as if someone has captured the Mediterranean in a bottle.

For a slightly different garnish, add a sprig of rosemary (crush the leaves lightly to release some of the flavour), cracked black pepper and a smear of fresh lemon juice around the rim of the glass. Divine!

Country of Origin: Spain

700ml/42.7% ABV

Price range: High