Old Duff’s 100% Maltwine Genever is something of a rarity in the 21st century. It is 100% maltwine. Nearly all genever used to be all maltwine— that is a low strength (often below 50% ABV), pot distilled spirit that still tastes strongly of the fermented grains it is made from.
Many of the major categories of modern genever are defined solely by the percentage of maltwine in the final product. Jonge genevers contains less than 15% by volume. Oude genevers contain more than 15%. 100% Maltwine genever is so rare that it doesn’t even have a formal designation. [For more, this is an excellent starting point. If you want to go deep, this book is even better.]
The mashbill of Old Duff 100% Maltwine Genever is 2⁄3 rye and 1⁄3 malted barley. It features two botanicals: juniper and Bramling Cross Hops.
Aroma: Heady with rich, malty grain. Notes of aniseed, dried dates and a hint of hops lend botanical character. Overall, the impression to me is suggestive of a cognac soaked fruit cake.
Taste: Round, thick mouthfeel with pronounced texture and radiant warmth. The rye spirit lends a grassy, slightly herbal flavor throughout. Slight menthol glow mid-palate through the finish. Herbaceous juniper, date, and piquant black peppercorns segue into an exceptionally long finish.
Finish: A long, slow fade with rye and hops.
While technically speaking, Old Duff 100% Maltwine Genever is truer to the style of genever that was common in the 19th century when many of the earliest cocktail books were being written. However, while it is historically accurate, to modern cocktail sensibilities, is is far outside the bounds of what we think of when we think of as gin. I don’t recommend treating it like a gin or garden-variety genever behind the bar.
Try it in an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail. But overall, I prefer it simply neat.
Overall, Old Duff 100% Maltwine Genever
Distilling technology has come so far in the last two centuries that it may be easy to write of 100% maltwine as a quaint historical footnote; a product of what the available technology produced. I disagree— far more than a quaint nod to the past, Old Duff 100% Maltwine Genever shows that within our collective past exist spirits that can be so delicious that it’s a wonder they’re as rare as they are.
Highly recommended, both within its category and overall.