A Taste Of The Past: Genever

Lots of us know how Gin smells like, it smells like juniper.   But what gin was like once upon a time?

I am now at the very new bar called AquaStard on the top floor (31/f, which I guess for London it’s tall! In any case, I totally enjoying the perfect view of London up in the air) of the Shard Tower in London Bridge. Bar man showed me a Dutch bottle of Bols Genever, which indeed, can be a good indication of how an original gin may tasted like back in the 17 century.

Believe it or not, despite gin is again back in the trend in London and in HK where most posh bars are having sophisticated cocktail menu from these juniper juice, it’s origin, another time told by the Italian bar man here, it was from Holland in fact.

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It’s definitely fun and interesting to go back in time when I am
having a nice cocktail here at bar same time.  This Bols Genever is truly a throwback in gins, with Bols’ recipe going back to one created in 1820.

Turning to the back of the bottle, I saw that it contains 50% “malt wine” made up of a blend of rye, corn and wheat. In other words, 50% of the distillate in this genever is essentially whiskey and the nose and flavor profile reflect that fact. On the nose, Bols Genever offers up malty, breadlike notes with hints of freshly made biscuits.

It does has a  viscous mouthfeel, tasted slightly juniper, while it is malty, smoky without that overwhelming dark peat flavor of scotches, very heavy on the traditional flavor elements.

This is a gin that a whiskey or scotch lover would appreciate I think!

In fact, Cocktailians and mixologists are celebrating the return of genever – the original gin – in cocktails of all kinds and the re-release of Bols Genever is a welcome, and necessary, addition to the bar. Where we are familiar with the dry qualities of London Dry gins in our favorite cocktails, we can rediscover them in the sweeter style of gin’s roots through this fantastic Dutch genever.

What a great Genever tasting here and for sure I will keep searching for a cocktail bar with Genever in their menu.  If you want to go back in time, go AquaShard to have a good start!


Liquor facts:

Traditional Genever is still very popular in the Netherlands and Belgium. European Union regulations specify that only liquor made in these two countries, two French provinces and two German federal states can use the name jenever/genever/genièvre.

Genever was originally produced by distilling malt wine to 50% ABV. Because the resulting spirit was not palatable due to the lack of refined distilling techniques (only the pot still was available), herbs were added to mask the flavour. The ju berry (jeneverbes in Dutch, which in turn comes from the Latin Juniperus) was chosen for its alleged medicinal effects,hence the name Genever (and the English name gin).


Level 31 The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY

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