Gin - Bols Barrel Aged Genever
Lucas Bols BV, Amsterdam, Holland
Bols Barrel Aged Genever
Importer: Lucas Bols USA, Manhasset, NY
PROOF: 84 (42%)
TYPE: Dutch Genever
AGE: 18 + months
PRICE: $50.00 - 750ML
Notes: One of the few genever style gins available in the U.S. market and even rarer because this one is aged in Limousin Oak for at least 18 months before bottling.
Appearance: Crystal clear, slightly golden color, thick, scalloped edges develop on swirling, changing to long legs on the side of the glass. Slightly oily / thickness to body (sign of quality and lots of flavor).
First Impression: Actually smells like genever malt wijn! Malty/bready smell like a spiced bread with cardamom, angelica, anise, licorice and a hint of juniper (not the first and defining characteristic unlike many London dry gins). Deep, round earthy and woody smells of ghee, spices, honeysuckle, citrus, mint, vanilla with cassia and orris root lingering around the edges.
Taste: Medium body to heavy body (especially for a gin), bready/malt like entry with lots of spice and some weight and mouthfeel. Interesting, appropriately muted floral followed by spice, pepper and some citrus. Mild tingling on the lips and tongue with a long spicy and herbal finish that is slightly sweet. Very clean distillation and wonderful blending.
Drinks: Finally you can use to make all those recipes from those old drinks books. Most pre prohibition books did not use London Dry Gin. They called for either Old Tom (a sweetened gin almost virtually extinct, except for Haymans Old Tom) or they specified Holland or Dutch Gin to make a less aromatic and much more malty drink - using the wrong variety was like using the wrong type of vermouth in a drink - vastly different (and possibly undrinkable) result. A Holland House was later changed into an Aviation by using a London Dry Gin instead It even makes a interesting, if slightly sacrilegious, Lassi.
Bottle: Traditional cylindrical shape in clay but in a break from tradition a black rather than reddish brown finish with black neck wrap and cork . Florid antique style script silkscreened on front on front and a short history of Bols and this genever on back. Neckwrap is a bit of a pain because with the short neck the remaining neckwrap after you open the bottle really gets in the way both for removing the cork and pouring so you need to manually cut it off (please do so before drinking to avoid the inevitable result of mixing sharp objects and alcohol).
Final Thoughts: An excellent start. While not a full - or older oude (aged) genever (many run older and we have had ones up to 20 years old), it is an attempt in the right direction. Highly recommended for a new gin addition to your bar. While it is a bit young in the scale of genevers, it certainly is old enough for most people to try to get used to and develop a taste for. If you think of it in terms of a scotch it would by closer to a young scotch lighter in body, fruitier/more aromatic which makes it more versatile to use instead of a whiskey in many drinks.
For a complex herbal twist on a classic whiskey drink - speaking of which you may wish to hold off on any bitters you would add to the whiskey drink - it is an excellent choice. That said we are somewhat disappointed in the use of caramel coloring - it dumbs down flavor and IMHO a trifle dishonest - I'd rather see a genevers real color than a designer engineered color - but I think it is more to get people to think and use it more as a whiskey and for that purpose the color helps in peoples perception of it as a brown spirit.
Website has some useful information, but a bit terse compared to some. More pictures and an expanded history would be useful.