If you do a little research into the history of gin, you quickly come across genever. Because de facto it is the origin of today’s gin. Thereby, the differences are huge, both in terms of taste, but also in terms of production.
On the trail of the Genever
I set out to trace the origins of the Genever. To do this, it is best to travel westward; the core countries of genever production are Holland and Belgium, but genuine genever may also be produced in some regions of the Ruhr area and in small parts of France. The Americans, where a veritable Genever boom is currently taking place, call their local variants Genever-style gin accordingly. But all this is not a new trend, but rather a revival or a return to the origins. Because the genever is not only the predecessor of gin, but in many classic cocktails the original ingredient. This is also the case, for example, in the classic Martinez, which is actually much more closely related to an Old Fashioned than to the classic Dry Martini. Over the years, however, drinking habits have changed and gin has replaced the originally intended genever in many cocktails. This trend is currently reversing itself step by step in the bar scene.
One reason for the move away from genever at the time was primarily production: gin is far less complex to produce and accordingly cheaper or sellable with higher margins. Another aspect is the aroma: gin is much more subtle and clear, Thus, at first glance, of course, more compatible with the masses. At second glance, of course, this is precisely an important distinction from the mainstream and one of the reasons why genever is so much on the rise right now: There is a lot to tell and many different and sometimes complex cocktail variations and classics to discover.
The differences between gin and genever
Gin is a clear, mostly colorless spirit and is distilled on the basis of mostly purchased distilled grain, i.e. high-proof flavorless alcohol. Very different botanicals are added, especially juniper, of course. This is called the classic London Dry Gin.
The usual process to get the aromatics into the gin is maceration. In this process, the botanicals are added to the alcohol, then removed and usually distilled several times in a final step. Water is then added to reach the desired alcohol content.
Genever, on the other hand, is based, much like eg. Whiskey, on an alcohol from grain that still carries the original aroma. There are different starting products, mostly corn, rye and green malt. The maceration process then also follows, but the choice of botanicals is deliberately more limited. The citrus aromas so typical in gin are rather atypical, common of course is the eponymous juniper.
Before the jenever is also reduced to the desired volume percentages with water, the distiller adds neutral alcohol in the third and final distillation stage. Depending on the remaining proportion of Moutwijn in the distillate, a distinction is made between “Oude Genever” and “Jonge Genever”. The “Oude”, i.e. old genever remains stronger, darker and maltier due to the higher proportion of Moutwijn. However, the designation says nothing about the storage or age of the spritouse. However, some genever is still stored in barrels, mostly in new oak barrels, sometimes also in old sherry casks. Correspondingly darker color and more complex aroma of these products, which sometimes blur the boundaries with whiskey.At the invitation of DeKuyper, I recently visited the Rutte distillery in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. A real traditional house with an exciting, but sometimes also dramatic history. Founded in 1872 by Simon Rutte, the distillery remains true to its roots even in the eighth generation and modernizes only slowly and gradually. Distilling still takes place at the old head office in Dodrecht. Many of the recipes have only been digitized in recent years, and only a very few have really been changed.
The history of Celery Gin
Shortly after Myriam Hendrickx took over the role of Master Distiller fifteen years ago, John Rutte, the incumbent and last distiller from the family at that time, passed away. This was a huge challenge, because at that time by far not all processes and work steps were documented. Learning by doing was the maxim of the first years for Myriam. And the intensive study of the old records of the house. Shopping and sales lists, tasting notes, and recipe variations. Subsequently, the very extensive product range had to be reduced and old products had to be reintroduced into production.
And it is on these old variations that Celery Gin is based, newly developed under the direction of Myriam Hendrickx. But in a roundabout way. When Myriam took the reins back then, she greatly reduced the celery content in the house’s classic gin. Years later, it struck her that the market was once again ready for this somewhat unusual flavor. The result was a new product in which celery now played an even greater role than before – but now as a spirit in its own right.
A very exciting product, with a slightly lighter and fresher note. Perfectly suited, for example, also for the gin Basil Smash, which its inventor Jörg Meyer, by the way, has also converted to a Rutte gin for several years. And, of course, for all forms of Savory cocktails, such as the Red Snapper, which is the gin version of the Bloody Mary.
Distilleerderij Rutte & Zn.
3311 NS Dordrecht
Many thanks to Rutte Distillers and De Kuyper for the invitation and organization of this press trip.