Jenever or Genever is probably the best known gin among many typically Dutch alcoholic beverages. Originally, it was a malt wine to which extracts of juniper berries were added. However, since the late 19th century producers often add neutral ethyl alcohol. Virtually every pub in Holland sells it as ‘jonge jenever’ (young) or ‘oude jenever’ (mature). Although the consumption of ‘jenever’ is declining gradually, it is still by far the most popular hard liquor in Holland.
- Enjoy Holland's most popular hard liquor.
- Visit the jenevercities Amsterdam and Schiedam.
- Make your own cocktail in House of Bols.
The invention of Jenever is often attributed to a Dutch doctor in the late 1700s. Variations of Jenever have existed even longer as medicine, the alcohol was flavored with Juniper to improve the taste. Eventually, the medicinal use was abandoned and the Dutch began to drink Jenever as a spirit. Distilleries sprang up all over Holland and Schiedam, Rotterdam's satellite city with 200 distilleries, became the unofficial jenever capital.
Where to find and taste Jenever
Schiedam and Amsterdam are still known for jenever and are occasionally called"jenever cities" (jeneversteden). Groningen and Dordrecht also produce jenever. In Amsterdam, jenever is made by Van Wees and Wynandt Fockinck. Well-known Schiedam jenever distilleries include Melchers, Henkes, and Hasekamp. Lucas Bols (House of Bols) is prehaps the most well known brand of Jenever and also one of the most widely distributed. The House of Bols attraction in Amsterdam walks through the history of the Bols brand and lets you make your own cocktail. The Schiedam Jenver Museum is also a great attraction for learning the history of this storied liquor.
Dutch pubs serve ‘jenever’ in a goblet-shaped glass or a shot glass. The glass is generally filled nearly to overflowing – so much so that the bartender normally serves an empty glass and fills it in front of the customer. The first draught is taken while the glass is still on the bar or table. If you plan to taste ‘jenever’ in Holland, make sure to enjoy in moderation. It contains more than 40% alcohol and is known for whacking unwary consumers over the head!
Want to enjoy a glass of Jenever?
When you are in Holland, why not visit one of the many cafés to try a glass of jenever or Dutch gin? Proeflokaal Wynand Fockink serves the best selection of jenevers. Or visit House of Bols, the world’s oldest distillery on Museumplein square in Amsterdam.
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