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What You Should Know Before Attending A Genever Tasting

Seven Tips You Must Know Before Heading For A Genever Tasting

If you are a fan of gin, you must know about its forerunner genever! Genever, also known as jenever, jeneva, geneva or hollands, is a malty drink which originated in the Netherlands. Though gin was inspired by genever, the latter is nothing like the juniper-forward spirit. It is a special kind of liquor which only some European nations are allowed to produce. Learn all about genever and how to go about tasting the unique spirit.


In the 1500s, Dutch pharmacists sold a medicinal liquid which was made of barley wine or barley spirit. The medicine was a bit rough on the palate. To make it palatable, the pharmacists tapped into the bustling spice trade in their country. Thus came the addition of juniper berries and other spices which ended up creating genever.

But today, the drink tastes malty, and in simple words, like a blend of gin and a light Scotch. It has subtle undertones of herbs and spices. If you know people who do not favour gin, do not assume they won't enjoy genever, as it has a different flavour profile, unlike the juniper-forward spirit.

How Genever Is Made

Genever begins as a blend of malted barley, rye and corn. This blend is then ground or milled and later combined with water to form a mash, a process not unlike that of Scotch production. Mashing helps the water to break down the starch and make them available for fermentation. The fermentation process can take many days. The slower the process, the more complex flavour the genever will acquire.

The fermented mash is distilled three to four times which results in a delicate, malty spirit. Some of this spirit is distilled again with a blend of aromatic botanicals such as juniper. The botanical-infused spirit is mixed with the spirit formed earlier to which botanicals weren't added. The two liquors are blended with neutral grain spirit (highly concentrated ethanol with high ABV). In some cases, this blend is aged to five years or more.

Seven Tips You Must Know Before Heading For A Genever Tasting

Types Of Genever

There are mainly three types of genever—oude, jonge and korenwijn. While oude means old, it doesn't indicate that the spirit is aged. It just means the process of making the genever is an older one. Jonge, which means young, means that this type of genever is made using a newer process and a modern recipe.


Oude is maltier and sweeter than jonge. It must have a minimum of 15% and a maximum of 50% of malt wine. Neutral grain spirit makes up for the rest of the component. It is traditionally consumed as a digestive.


It was created to appeal to a generation of vodka drinkers. It contains, at most 15% malt wine, and the rest of it is neutral grain spirit or sugar-based alcohol. Jonge is consumed traditionally as an aperitif.


This type of the genever is the maltiest of the three. It must contain at least 51% malt wine, but no more than 70%. Korenwijn or corenwijn is not easily available outside the regions it is manufactured in.

Note: In Europe, genever is served with a chaser. If you opt for a U-boat, you get a glass of beer with genever dropped in it.

Seven Tips You Must Know Before Heading For A Genever Tasting

Tasting Genever

Below are the factors you need to consider while going for a genever tasting.


Genever is served in a small tulip-shaped glass or a small wine glass so that the aromas and flavours get concentrated in the container.


The colour of the spirit depends on the ageing process and ranges from clear to golden to amber. You can hold it up to the light to see its hue clearly.


Swirl the genever gently in the glass to release its aromas. Take short, light sniffs to get the scents. You will detect fragrances of juniper and various herbs and spices, and at times hints of malt or oak.


Take small sips of the spirit so that it coats your tongue. Note the tastes you get which go from herbal to spicy to fruity and even malty. Sense how different flavours in the genever are balanced.


Detect the texture of the genever. It could be smooth or creamy or have a pronounced burn. The mouthfeel depends on distillation techniques and ageing.


Notice the lingering flavours and sensations. Check whether the taste evolves or fades soon after you swallow the spirit. A long finish with complex flavours indicates the genever is of top quality.

Take Notes 

List down your observations about the factors in a notepad. This will help you distinguish different expressions and keep track of your preferences as well. 

While it's great to learn about alcohol, it is important to also consume alcohol moderately. Remember to serve and drink responsibly to ensure you and your guests are healthy and out of harm's way. If you know anyone who has trouble controlling their alcohol intake, please refer them to a professional immediately.


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