Genever is a topic all unto itself. Really. It’s not gin, but it’s the great great grandfather of gin. Ancestrally speaking, they’re all the same family. We occasionally cover Genevers here because of their ancestral connection; however, those of you who haven’t had a genever before [you’re in for a treat with Zeer Oude Genever], and those of you who hold me and this site literally to the title above—
So let’s get some technical details out of the way.
- Genever dates back to at least the 14th century, and once was a medicinal drink.
- Oude Genever has at least 15% Maltwine (and less than 50%, anything above would be a Korenwijn) and less than 20g of sugar per liter.
- Yes, Genever is sweetened. Notice the 38% ABV
- This genever is distilled from grain: an even split of malted barley, corn and rye.
- It is distilled until a malty, but not neutral spirit is made; part of that is re-distilled with botanicals (including Juniper) and then some of that malty spirit is re-added after botanical distillation.
- Zuidam’s 5 year Oude is then rested in American Oak.
This haphazard introduction to Genever, I hope sets the stage for those of you who aren’t familiar.
Don’t be surprised if you get some whiskey notes on the nose of Zeer Oude Genever. Warm oak, a mere dash of vanillin, and then some notes that remind me a bit of the nose of a lager or wheat beer. There’s a touch of juniper, resiny and woody mixed in there, amidst an overwhelmingly woody and oaky aroma.
The palate is noticeably creamier with a lot more vanilla and butterscotch than most whiskeys. Or even whisky. It’s really, really different, having more in common with the rich flavors of a young bourbon, but without any of the harshness of the base spirit. The sweetening and spirit quality is incredibly smooth.
Tasting wise, Zeer Oude Genever is vanilla and oak early, butter scotch and cedar followed by a botanically driven mid-palate that has hints of juniper, burnt apple, cinnamon stick and vanilla. The finish is relatively short and only mildly sweet.
Quite lovely on its own.
I’m not generally one to do a lot of cocktails with Oude Genevers, tending to prefer them on their own and leaning towards mixing more with American Holland Style Gins or Jonge Genevers. If you do want to mix with this, I will suggest trying a simple Holland Fizz; the egg white and fizz elevates some of the underlying botanical complexity, and comes together really nice with some of those vanilla and butterscotch notes.
Zeer Oude Genever is a very smooth and easy to drink Genever. Some gin drinkers may find it a bit too much like a Bourbon or whiskey. But I suggest that if you’re looking to get into the style, this is a very accessible introduction. Don’t be put off by the added sweetening, it’s really only a subtle touch that helps the oak and botanicals blend together. It’s smooth but not too sweet. Recommended for those who are looking to try their first Oude Genever.