Ironton Distillery opened its doors in late 2018 in the rapidly developing River Arts North District in Denver. Among their flagship gins at launch is their Genièvre Gin— an intentional take on the Holland style of gin. That is Ironton is creating an “old world Dutch style gin” designed to invoke some of the traditional aspects of genever.
Of course, anything distilled in the U.S.A. cannot technically be a genever because true genevers must be distilled in Belgium, the Netherlands or a couple small abutting regions of France and Germany with no exceptions. But where an American distiller can approach the style is by using a base entirely distilled grain-to-glass of malted two-row barley. And secondly, they can preserve some of the character of the original base spirit, using it as if it were another botanical.
The nose of Genièvre Gin is bright with citrus and evident grain character. Hay, toasted grain and oat aroma with bright round Meyer Lemon and thick expressed orange rinds. A slight fruity fennel and dill seed aroma rounds out the nose.
Genièvre Gin is a bit more of a contemporary style gin to the nose than a genever.
The base spirit itself has a nice texture to it and a delicate but not overpowering warmth. Gentle sweetness permeates the tip of the palate, but the real heart of Genièvre Gin is the thick, spicy back end. Juniper is fairly loud with a resiny, herbaceous inflection.
There’s an earthy, anise flavor present as well. More of a dill seed, fennel seed flavor than a nutty licorice or star anise. There’s a pink and black peppercorn spiciness that lends some of the grain notes on the moderately long finish a spiced bread sort of flavor.
Genièvre Gin is a bit challenging as a mixer. It does wear it’s heart more in the Holland style than the traditional. I’d recommend avoiding the Gin and Tonic and instead trying a Death in the Gulf Stream, Improved Holland Gin Cocktail or even just a simple Tom Collins.
Overall, Genièvre Gin
Don’t come looking for a genever— even a jonge. Instead come for a hearty Holland-style gin that has some citrus and juniper to brighten it up. Although perhaps not exactly what I would have expected from an intentionally Dutch style gin, Genièvre Gin does invoke a very curious parallel. The citrus and grain on the palate reminds me of a sample of 1930’s Plymouth I tried some years back.