Bols Genever

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The Bols Genever recipe dates back to at least 1820. However, Lucas Bols— the man behind the Genever— first made genever in 1664. Bols is one of the longest lasting extant spirits brands, period.

Bols Genever is distilled from a malt wine grain base composed of wheat, rye and corn that were fermented alongside juniper berries.  22(!) botanicals are present in total. It is is then rested in oak for a minimum of eighteen months before bottling.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Hints of ginger, beer and baking spice.

Flavor: Juniper is present but just a background facet. The star here is the base spirit. The drink is simultaneously spicy and earthy. Baking spice notes segue into hints of fresh pine forest. It has a slight tannic note that in some contexts almost reads as a bit smoky.


One spectacular recipe for Bols Genever is from David Wondrich’s book Punch called “Hot Bols Genever Punch.

Otherwise, try it in some traditional 19th century genever cocktails like the Improved Holland Gin Cocktail or just go classic— the Negroni is a time tested winner.

I recommend not trying to make a Gin and Tonic with a genever. While some people do really enjoy it, genever differs quite a bit from gin. Just know that it’s not going to be the same thing.

Overall, Bols Genever

Overall, even two hundred years later, Bols Genever is a delicious spirit in its own right.

Further, despite being one of the biggest names in the category, it’s still one of the best.



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8 thoughts on “Bols Genever”

  1. I know it’s an older review, but it’s also an early hit on a google search.
    This is my current “go-to” for a sour.
    1-2 tsp sugaror simple syrup, 1/2 oz fresh lemon or lemon/lime juice
    2 oz Bols Aged Genever

    Shake with ice, stain and garnish with summer berries.
    Sometimes I throw in a double dash of Luxardo Maraschino Liquer.
    My current sour favorite. (But give that a month or two to change.)

    Also makes a great Sazerac-style cocktail. (Or an Improved Cocktail)

  2. Great genever to enjoy sipping it neat and chilled.
    Goes well as a “kopsttot” with a dry, grainy, hoppy, clean tasting beer for a chaser (think Bittburger),

  3. Thanks for the link, but I’ll challenge you on the John Collins. First, it is an excellent entry drink for someone who is unfamiliar with genever. (Which is a needed thing with this difficult but delicious liquor) Second, I still say it is a worthwhile drink on its own. The Tom Collins (when not debased with sour mix) is a true standard, but the John Collins is much better.

    The upshot of all this, since I’ve been out of genever for a while, is that I’ve got to go find me a bottle again….

  4. Doug, thanks for the comment.
    I think that’s a fair critique. While I do think that the genever-specific cocktails showcase the best parts of genever, I think perhaps you might be right that the John Collins is a more accessible entry point for a less adventurous cocktail drinker (or someone who wouldn’t fancy themselves a cocktail connoisseur)

    Cheers, and enjoy your re-entry into the world of genever!

  5. When I lived in Amsterdam, I enjoyed both jonge genevers (‘young’) and oude genevers (‘old’). The stronger, more raw flavor of the jonge was best mixed with applejuice (Apflesap met genevers). The rich, complex oude genevers was best had straight and slow. Think of old and fresh gouda for a good metaphor for the comparitive flavors.

  6. I have a 1lt bottle (clay) of jonge Bols Graan Genever never opened will it still be ok to drink.
    also i have a 1lt bottle (clay)of Zeer Oude Genever never been opened.,some would it be ok to drink.
    But i am willing to sell.