A. van Wees distillery de Ooievaar is best known for its Genevers, which is the last traditional Genever distillery in Amsterdam (well, so they say). In operation since the late 18th century, the distillery now has 18 different takes on the traditional Dutch spirits, and more than a few gins as well. Three Corner Dry Gin is something of a curiosity owing to its rather lean botanical bill. Simply lemon and juniper, its an apt exploration for students of gin looking to focus on learning the ways different botanicals taste in isolation, but more than that, despite its simplicity it’s a rather versatile gin with a rather distinctive flavor to boot.
All Gins from Netherlands
Proclaimed on the bottle as the “best of both worlds, east and west,” Bobby’s Gin is based on a recipe of Jacobus, better known as Bobby, Alfons. Eight botanicals are each distilled on their own before being blended together to create his namesake gin.
But Jacobus’s story is an interesting one. An immigrant, he was born in Indonesia. Raised on the vibrant spices which once drove the Dutch to the Indies during the 17th and 18th century spice trade, he fell in love with Genever and began playing around with infusions, pairing the spices of his youth with Dutch spirits, just as the Dutch did long ago.
So the name, “Dutch Courage,” is attributed to a possibly apocryphal story about the origin of gin in England. Supposedly when the English were fighting alongside the Dutch in the 20 years war, the Dutch took a swig of a spirit before rushing into battle. This spirit made them bold! Made them powerful! Made them courageous. Hence the name “Dutch Courage.” The stuff they were drinking? Genever. The ancestral spirit which led to the development of gin.
Truth be told, the term probably didn’t exist until much later. But nevertheless, good story right?
The nose has juniper, lemon, and a lovely Bombay-Sapphireesqeue note of exotic coriander. The nose is well-rounded with a lovely citrusy undertone. Quite nicely balanced and quite classic. The palate is citrusy at first, but with a rich spicy character, with notes of violet, anise, and pine-note accentuated juniper. Hints of walnut and nutmeg in the late palate, leading into the finish. Moderate in length with a dry clean finish, this is easy drinking, well-balanced classic gin.
Seems like a good mixing gin at a good strength as well. I’d try it in a French 75 or Tom Collins.
This is the first of what will be a new type of Gin Review here on the Gin is In. Impressions are abbreviated gin reviews for when we don’t always have a full size bottle to put it through our rigorous battery of cocktail tests. We’ll take these reviews as far as the samples allow us, but often they might only contain some tasting notes and some general thoughts. We’ll still score the gins, but the number can be raised or lowered based on the score we give it after trying a full bottle.
Sound good? Let’s get into the gin.
In < 100 Words
Dr. Franciscus Sylvius was, in an oft-repeated, and just as oft-debunked, narrative the person who invented gin. He did his work in the 17th century, at least a couple centuries after the first juniper berries were distilled with a grain spirit. Doesn’t matter, we won’t hold it against this gin which bears his name.
Distilled at the Onder de Boompjes Distillery in the Netherlands, the gin draws its inspiration from Justus Walup’s considerable expertise in Genever and malt-wine. The base spirit is wheat, but the overall flavor profile is botanical driven rather than base-driven.
Goodman’s is a newly released small-batch gin from the Netherlands: a partnership between Paul and Gerda de Goede and a historic artisan distiler. Goodman’s Gin was inspired by the Florida Keys, and is part of an emerging pattern of brands being designed to “drink neat,” but also “mix well with everything.” We’ve been drinking gin neat here for years, and its exciting to have more and more folks paying attention to that space, though for most bartenders and gin-drinkers, its the cocktails that still hold the most weight.
On the nose, juniper, sweet orange rind, a little bit of a cassia and grains or paradise as well. There’s a faint spicy, sort of sweetness in the background here. Quite nice, leaning classic.
The palate is strong and assertive, especially upon first sip. Juniper with a little bit of heat up front, quickly spreading to the sides. The heat is a little bit bracing, but the flavors of the other botanicals begin to shine through. Cinnamon, lemon rind present in the mid notes. Angelica comes on more strongly towards the low-mids. The finish is rife with bright violet, lavender and a bit of surprising sweetness.
Where are we Today? We are in Meppel in the Netherlands. While we’ve mostly been in Southern Europe, the Netherlands probably represents are single biggest geographic change in the initial series of Origin gins. Meppel has been a city since 1644, and today has a population of just over 30,000. Of all of the places that gave their juniper to the initial series, this one has perhaps my favorite story of the place.
An old folk story of the region suggests that the people are called Meppeler Muggen, which translates to the “mosquitos/gnats from Meppel.” An old folk tale says that one day people of the city thought their church steeple was on fire. They rushed to its rescue….and then they realized it was just a bunch of mosquitos. Or gnats.
Okay, so the story is probably not true. But one thing is clear, Meppel is a very different place than the previous three entrants into the Origin series.
Assertive and juniper-like, but not too bracing. It starts slow and thin before quickly building. Wet and piney, with a little bit of fire, but quickly fading. It leaves a sensation of little sharp prickles on your tongue, fading flavor-wise faster but leaving a little bit of heat in the back of your throat.
This review is the companion piece to the Origin Netherlands w/ Just Juniper ()
Citrusy and earthy, surprisingly different. The materials that came with this gin described it as a “Coffee-rich Finish” and I quote them because I’m not sure I can come up with a better way of describing the way that the flavor feels. Its a bit like black coffee. Rich and earth, dark and lingering, slightly bitter but never overpowering. Again, the citrus really stands out among the botanicals which seems about part on course of the Origin gins, but this one is more assertive and although I found the juniper mellower in the “juniper only” batch than the Arezzo, it is much more assertive in the final product than the Arezzo. Smooth and with a fair amount of heat once again, the flavors calling to mind an almost yeasty, bread-like flavor, with smokey woody notes, this is quite an interesting gin here. Gin purists will appreciate the juniper forward manifestation here, but those who are in search of something a bit more balanced might complain that the juniper is too “vegetative” or “dark” in here.
I’m not a big fan of secrets. You know, sometimes its a little cold, – you’re on the outside looking in. So Nolet, what gives? You have some obscure botanicals: that much I’m certain of. The given list includes only Peach, Raspberry and Rose. I’m not going to claim that I can reveal the underlying secrets with my well-developed gin-tasting ability (I’m going to try though), but these three “known” ingredients are so obvious on their own, so overpowering and at the forefront- whether by suggestion or intention that they remain the focus of many reviews of this bold new entry into the realm of top-top shelf gins.
Where’s the Juniper?
The first thing that gin drinkers notice whether by scent or by taste is that the juniper is muted, almost missing. I definitely think there’s some juniper in here (and not just because juniper is essentially required to make a gin) but because there is an underlying mild spice that rings of juniper. It makes me think of the faint pine flavor that I once had in a Douglas Fir sorbet. Its pine, and I call it juniper just because its gin.
The little bottle of Oliver Cromwell 1599 Gin that I had the pleasure of tasting was again thanks to the kindness of the kind gin-loving compatriots over at Summer Fruit Cup.
Spirits competitions remind me a bit of beer competitions. For example, let’s take the example of Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Most beer connoisseurs would probably be reluctant to say “those are great beers” (given the array of complex craft brews out there) but they are stellar examples of that style. A lager is supposed to be clear, uncomplex, yawn-inspiring. So naturally when I heard an inexpensive gin from Aldi won an award I assumed it must be a to-the-letter example of what gin should be. And actually, I wouldn’t have been the far off. Aldi is a classic example of a juniper forward, juniper heavy gin. It may be classic to a fault, as it is a one note performance. I think there might be some coriander, as there were hints of an underlying spiciness to it. But really, let’s be honest- unless you’re drinking it straight you probably won’t be detecting anything but the juniper.
As for drinking it straight, I’m not sure I can recommend that whole-heartedly.
Genever is a legally protected name, so alike real champagne, the origins are certain. As a protected name it implies its origins in Belgium, Netherlands, or a couple provinces of Germany or France. Bols is from the Netherlands where it has operated at the center of the Dutch distilling industry since the early 17th century.
On to the drink. I’ve read many descriptions of Genever, but the one that makes the most sense to me is the comparison of Bols Genever to that of a white whiskey. It is malty, thick, and complex. That complexity is due to the combination of botanicals. Juniper is present but just another flavor. The drink is simultaneously spicy and earthy, the taste has hints of fresh pine forest (or for those of you who haven’t spent time in the woods, maybe a Christmas tree stand and nutmeg.) It feels smoky without that overwhelming dark peat flavor of scotches. This is a tough gin to review, because the closest parallels for reviewing are in the whiskey family.