Sylvius Gin

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.

Sylvius Gin BottleIn < 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. Distilled in small batches, less than 800L, the distillery describes it as a “Holland Gin.”


The nose begins with caraway, cinnamon and a hint of citrus. Anise-like notes, with grain and caraway, creating an illusory low note reminiscent of rye bread. The palate starts with a sharp caraway note, but considerable depth emerges: floral notes along with juniper come through in the mids. The finish has a lot of spice notes, as caraway comes through again, but this time with sweet licorice and fennel notes as well. Sylvius gin is a spice-forward contemporary style gin.

Nice on its own with bright caraway, anise and spice notes that don’t overwhelm. We’d look to try this in a Martini or Negroni.


Price: $53/ 750,mL
Proof: 90
Availability:  Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Germany, UK and Master of Malt.
Rating:   More a gin than a Genever (or Aquavit), it merges some of these best aspects of both. Nicely balanced, and perhaps worthy of a name better than Sylvius.  [Rating:3.5/5]

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Readers' Reviews

4 thoughts on “Sylvius Gin

  • January 2, 2015by Johan Kersten

    Thank you for the review! I work in the distillery, and I’d like to take the opportunity to “correct” some things just to clarify some bits 😉

    The gin is not “Holland Gin” but “London Dry Gin”. It’s single distilled, no sugars, un (chill) filtered, at a strength above 70% (after distillation and diluted to 45%).

    On the name Sylvius. As stories go, there were 2 Dr.s Sylvius who operated in the city of Leiden. One around 1550, and one in 1650. Up till today you might visit the Sylvius Laboratory. The name Genevre was coined by Dr. Sylvius, the one in 1650, for distillates containing juniper. Hence the birth of genever as a category. Our distillery started distilling in Leiden (as the only distillery there) in 1658. So there is some relevant historical link between the two and we decided to name our gin after our heritage ánd the heritage of genevre.

    The difference between Gin and Genever is the presence of Moutwijn (malt-spirit) in genever. And genever has a lower percentage of botanicals per litre. Genever is therefore more of a mix between gin and whisky as Moutwijn is basically whisky, only the yeast is different.

    Holland Gin, or Genever, is always with this ingredient Moutwijn, and by flavour completely different as gin.

    Anyway, we love you took the time to taste our gin. If I may challenge you a bit:
    When you try this gin neat; it will give you the typical London Dry taste (Juniper, citrus, angelica). As soon as you mix/dilute it, it completely alters in flavour as it opens up the licorice and star anise (and caraway! Well spotted!!)
    We’re proud that we achieved this delicate balance between the alcohol percentages and the flavours it opens.
    If you dilute it even further, down to 1:10, orange is the dominant flavour.

    Best, Johan!

  • January 4, 2015by AaronPost author

    Thanks for writing!

    Your website does call Sylvius an “artisinal Holland gin,” I was simply reporting what I was able to find about your product’s history:

    Also, I believe I was very clear- stating that your gin is not a genever, though the distiller has expertise in genever. In fact, at the end, I stated that [as you did above] that Sylvius Gin was “spice forward contemporary gin” and “More a gin than a Genever. ”

    Thanks for clarifying on your gin’s origin story. I appreciate that, and did not mean to contend why you named your gin that way, but simply to point out that for gin-readers who’ve read many of the same books I have, that misconception might be the first thing that came to mind.


  • January 5, 2015by Johan

    Thanks for your reply, Much appreciated! I didn’t want to patronize or anything likely to that at all.
    Our distillery is also producing 2 genevers next to this gin. So we’re pretty ‘on the detail’ when it comes to the two categories.
    In Holland and Belgium there’s a whole bunch of genevers who don’t really use moutwijn so much. This is all due to price pressure. Our genevers are high in moutwijn dose and therefore more flavoursome (we think) and our mission is to explain the crowd what real genever is, could be, and should be.

    However, I’ll make sure you’ll get a sample of our genever as well as a bottle of Sylvius. Can you email me your packages-address?

    Proost, Johan

  • January 5, 2015by AaronPost author

    Yes, send you an e-mail. Thanks so much, looking forward to trying your genever as well!

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