Zeer Oude Genever; Versatility and Style

In previous articles, I have written about both Van Wees’ Angostura Bitters and their excellent Three Corners Dry Gin. Today, I will look at another of their products, Zeer Oude Genever.

The forefather of London Dry Gin, Genever comes in a few varieties:

Oude (Old)
This name isn’t a reference to the age of the spirit, but rather to the “old” method in which it is made. It must contain a minimum of 15% Maltwine, no more than 20g of sugar per litre, and at be bottled at or above 35%ABV.

Jonge (Young)
This is made using a newer method of production that became popular in the 1950s in response to demand for a more mixable spirit with a lighter character. This can contain no more than 15% maltwine and no more than 10g sugar per litre. It must be bottled at at least 35%ABV.

Korenwijn (Cornwine)
The third variety, this must contain 51% maltwine and be bottled at at least 38%ABV. It can also contain no more than 20g of sugar per litre.

Van Wees Zeer Oude Genever
Van Wees Zeer Oude Genever

A.V. Wees Zeer Oude Genever is in the first of these styles. In addition to being made in the old style, it is also aged for at least one year in oak casks (hence Zeer (“Very”) Old).

The Taste

Nose: Dry spice, oak, juniper and toasted bread.
Taste: Initially smooth, with a building warmth. Oaky wood, vanilla and bread follow, with juniper on the finish. An interesting cross between whiskey and gin.
After tasting, it seemed to have the warmth and body of a brown spirit with the mixability of a white; as such, I decided to try it in a variety of classic cocktails.

Quite pleasant and smooth, this seemed to be a cross between a Manhattan and a Martinez; the missing link between these cocktails. The dry juniper notes are followed by sweet oak and vanilla. There are some herbal hints and a touch of citrus on the finish.

This Sazerac had a great combination of oaky vanilla and anise flavours. Warming and woody, it was also very comforting. Unusual, but excellent.

This was quite bitter, but also seemed more rounded than most Negronis, with a slight woodiness to it and a touch of anise. Overall, I think that a good balance was reached between the sweet and bitter flavours. Very good indeed.

Moscow Mule
A twist on the vodka classic. It had the same refreshing chill and citrus of the traditional drink, but with added vanilla notes and a woody, malty finish.

Yellow Gin
Yellow Gin was a variety of gin that had been matured in wood to add a light straw colour and an oaky flavour. Despite its popularity in the middle of the last century, it is now harder to come by. One suggested substitute is a mix of Dry Gin and Genever, so I decided to try it.

25ml Van Wees Three Corners Dry Gin
25ml Van Wees Zeer Oude Genever
(Stir without ice)

Comparing this to some Yellow Gins I have tried, I can see the similarities, although this was a lot richer in flavour, being more woody and malty. If you’re looking for something different when making gin-based drinks such as a Martini or Gin & Tonic, this mix could be really useful.

In Conclusion
Trying these drinks really illustrates the versatility of Genever as a cocktail ingredient and, with the increased interest in aged spirits, even extending to aged gins and vodkas, I think the interest in Genever will continue to grow. Hopefully some more great cocktails will be created, too!

by David T Smith

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