Also known as genièvre, genever, peket, or in the English-speaking world as Dutch gin or Hollands. Jenever is the juniper-flavored national and traditional alcoholic beverage of the Netherlands and Belgium, from which gin evolved.
Originally produced by distilling malt wine (moutwijn in Dutch) to 50% ABV, herbs were added to mask the flavour of the spirit which was unpalatable due to the lack of refined distillation techniques. The juniper berry, hence the name jenever (and the English name gin), was used for its alleged medicinal benefits.
There are two main types of jenever: oude (old) and jonge (young). This is not a matter of ageing, but of distilling techniques.
A new style that emerged in the last century, it has a very high proportion of neutral spirits, which can be from any source (grain, malt, beet, sugar, etc.) and contains more grain spirit as opposed to malt spirit. The style came about partly due to a shortage of grain in the war years and partly due to the prevailing taste moving away from coarse, characterful spirits and towards a more neutral palate.
It is the most similar to a modern gin in style, has a neutral taste, like vodka, with a slight aroma of juniper and malt wine and is the most suitable for mixing in cocktails.
Jonge Jenever distilled from grain and malt only is labelled Graanjenever (Grain Jenever).
Oude jenever (Old)
So-named not because of its age but because it represents an older styler of jenever, more akin to the original jenevers than the modern jonge style. Oude jenevers tend to contain more botanicals and must contain at least 15% malt-wine.
It has a smoother, very aromatic taste with malty flavours; sometimes aged in wood, its malty, woody and smoky flavours resemble whisky.
Korenwijn (Grain Wine)
Lastly, not officially considered a jenever, but similar to oude jenever, there is korenwijn (grain wine) which must contain more than 51% malt-wine.
Korenwijn does not have to included juniper or any other botanicals but often does. It is characterful and flavoursome in style, and is usually cask-aged before bottling.
Traditionally Jenever is drunk neat either at room temperature (especially Oude Jenever) and sipped similarly to whisky, or ice cold, usually with beer as a ‘chaser’.
Jonge Jenever can work well as a replacement for gin in some cocktails, such as the Tom Collins, but beware as the maltier flavour does not work well in many lighter cocktails, such as the G&T.
Oude Jenever works well in many whisky \ bourbon cocktails.
4 parts Jonge Jenever, 2 Parts Lemon Juice, 1 part Sugar Syrup, top with Soda Water over ice.
1 part Sugar Syrup, 2 parts Oude Jenever, generous dash Angostura Bitters over ice.
Jonge Jenever with Angostura Bitters over ice.
In a small pot, combine: 2 parts Jenever, 2 parts Cider (still), ½ part Honey Syrup (equal parts Honey and Water, or substitute Sugar Syrup), a dash of Angostura bitters.
Heat gently until it just simmers, Don’t Cook!
Serve and garnish with a Cinnamon Stick.