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

Summer Fruit Cup
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Three Corners Dry Gin, by David T. Smith

There is a gin that I have noticed is becoming increasingly prevalent in a number of bars in London and its appearance is matched by an enthusiasm of bartenders for this product; the spirit in question is Three Corners Dry Gin by A.v.WEES.

A.v.Wees are a Dutch company that are well-known for their traditional-style Genevers, but this new product “respects the English influence” on gin. That said, Van Wees were not content to produce another carbon-copy of other London Dry Gins; instead, they opted for a little differentiation and, as a result, only use two botanicals: juniper berries (naturally) and lemon.

As a fan of gin in a market where producers seem to be constantly out-doing each other with how many botanicals they can put in – I think the record is now close to 40 – two botanicals is rather a breath of fresh air.


The nose is of juniper & citrus (surprise! surprise!). The taste contains powerful juniper and citrus notes, floral touches and a hint of coriander (even though I know it contains none). I thought that it was dry and a rather classic example of the London Dry Gin style.

Gin & Tonic
A strong flavour, with a pleasant mix of juniper and citrus, which holds up well to the tonic. A making a memorable and cooling drink.

Another strongly flavoured drink that is also clean and crisp. The simplicity of flavours works well in what is a very simple cocktail. That said, the drink is surprisingly complex and has good depth of flavour.

A bitter and herbally complex Negroni. Very flavourful, with slightly more of a bitter edge than your average Negroni.

Sharp and citrusy, with some juniper and some very subtle floral hints from the maraschino and Creme de Violette. Very smooth and quite tart.

James Bond Gin & Tonic

Following the popularity of the Carte Blanche cocktail in the recent Angostura Bitters article, I thought I’d take a look at another 007 cocktail: the James Bond Gin & Tonic.
This is enjoyed by Bond in the book Dr. No after a long trans-Atlantic flight to Jamaica.

Take a large hi-ball glass and add a double measure of gin.
Cut a lime in half and drop the two squeezed halves into the glass.
Fill the glass with ice.
Top-up with tonic water.

With Three Corners, this had a nice, fresh tartness, making a refreshing and invigorating drink. The simple, no-nonsense character of the gin comes through, with the citrus of the gin also working well with the lime; perhaps surprisingly, the sheer volume of lime juice called for by the recipe is not overpowered.
This is a Gin & Tonic full of juniper and citrus and is rather lovely.

In Conclusion

I found experimenting with the Three Corners very interesting and, for me, it works best in simple cocktails, where it can be fully appreciated. For a gin with only two botanicals, this is also surprisingly complex and I can see why it is gaining popularity with the country’s bartenders.

By David T. Smith
Summer Fruit Cup

Van Wees Angostura Bitters; a Carte Blanche worthy of 007

Van Wees Angostura Bitters
Van Wees Angostura Bitters

Angostura Bitters is a staple of the mixologist’s toolkit, but the variety with over-sized label is not the only brand available. Dutch spirit company Van Wees produces a range of genevers, liqueurs and bitters, including one flavoured with Angostura Bark.

The bitters have been produced since the days of VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) AKA The Dutch East India Company.

Originally, the bitters were created to add flavour when mixed with genever and gin. As I had some other juniper-related Van Wees products, I decided to use these as a part of the tasting.

Pink Gin

i) using Three Corners Gin:
The bitters add a spicy complexity to the drink; the cinnamon and cinchona flavours work well, both together and with the simple juniper and citrus of the gin. With the recognisable flavour of spices, this drink is slightly Christmas-y.

ii) using Genever:
This is a very different drink to the Three Corners version; it is richer and maltier, and the bitters add another layer, increasing the depth of the flavour. The result is a drink with a bourbon-like character, perfect for sipping on the rocks.

Pink Gin & Tonic

i) using Three Corners Gin:
This drink has a wonderful, fresh flavour, with hints of ginger and cinnamon, and is more subtle when the Van Wees is used instead of other bitters.

ii) using Genever:
Rich and bitter, malty and herby, this is almost like an aged Negroni, although perhaps a little softer. Fantastic.

Old Fashioned

Truly a classic cocktail and rather tasty; the bitters are quite subtle, but definitely still present and bringing the different flavours together. On the finish there was a superb bitter lift courtesy of the angostura.

Carte Blanche

The Vesper of the 21st century, this drink comes from the latest James Bond Novel, Carte Blanche. It has a nose of citrus, cinnamon and cinchona. There’s slightly more flavour and bitter warmth than you get when using the usual bitters; it also less sweet. I have to say, this was a great improvement on the two other Carte Blanche’s that I have had. Delicious, and the bitters really make the drink. Truly excellent.

Amaretto Sour

A pleasant mix, with an almond biscuit-iness that contrasts well with the lemon juice. Once again, the bitters act as a catalyst, tying the flavour of the drink together and adding complexity.

With Lemonade

I added a few drops to a glass of cloudy lemonade (this drink’s ABV is less than 0.5%, which is equivalent to botanicals brewed soft drinks). The bitters add some complexity to the lemonade, as well as livening it up a bit; very tasty and very refreshing.

In Conclusion

There are lots of bitters on the market today, but I think that for a good all-round cocktail bitters, Van Wees Angostura Bitters would definitely be one to consider. As they were designed with juniper in mind, they work particularly well in gin cocktails.

But, for me, my favourite would have to be the Carte Blanche, as Bond fan, I was disappointed the first time I mixed the drink using other bitters. But when I used Van Wees Angostura Bitters the drink was transformed into something worthy of 007.

By David T. Smith

Summer Fruit Cup