Very nicely done for a young style Belgian Genever. about as flavorful as they can legally get – literally !
A Microdistilled Genever using the Oude or Vieux Systeme (in English the old potstill system as opposed to the newer column still distillation techniques many regrettably use for fast and cheap lighter flavored Genever production). The genever malt ( grain spirit with herbs) is then blended with neutral grain spirits to make a lighter blended genever than the Old Genever reviewed here . That being said they use the most malted spirit allowed by law for maximum taste in a still very easy ( maybe too easy) to drink genever
Notes: Handcrafted in a small ( 200 liter/52 gallon) copper pot still in a grain to clay flask operation at Stokerrij De Moor,the smallest active grain distillery in Belgium. Located in Aalst, Belgium and founded in 1910, the owner was killed in 1914 during the German invasion of WWI when the Germans came to strip out the genever distilleries of their copper. During this time almost all genever distillation stopped and the traditional genever almost became extinct. After the war the founder’s widow, Anna rebuilt the distillery and now 4 generations down the road, we are lucky enough to have this original family recipe genever here in the United States.
Unlike many distilleries these days this one still malts and ferments its own grains and makes its own wort/beer onsite – an expensive, labor, time and space intensive process. Many distilleries, even the smaller ones now buy bulk alcohol and rectify ( redistill) the alcohol and then mix in their botanicals or essences. The Diep 9 Young Grain Genever is double distilled in a copper pot still using 19th century techniques to distill a mix of rye, wheat, malted barley and 9 botanicals some of which gin enthusiasts will recognize – some not so much. The botanicals are also used in very different proportions than in a London Dry Style Gin.The botanicals are added directly to the malt during distillation ( unlike a lot of compound gins which add the oils and essences to a neutral grain spirit – this type of manufacture gained notoriety during prohibition as ‘Bathtub Gin’ as the same techniques were used. After distillation the spirit is then added to a neutral grain spirit and reduced to 70 proof to make a very flavorful, interesting, and dangerously easily to drink jonge genever.
Appearance: Wonderfully oily appearance, clear almost sap like, sparkling clarity. On Swirling it forms a nice edge line which goes from tears to legs then droplets .
First Impression: Scents of caraway,vanilla, guinea pepper, cinnamon, with orange,citrus and flowery overtones. Just a touch spirity, but understated and no off notes in the spirit itself. Nice done distillation !
Taste: Spicy,oily entry like drinking a spice bread in a way with spices giving a nice kick to the oily entry followed by a mild warming and drying finish.
Drinks: Not really sure how to tease the best out of this one. Think of it as a spicy sort of aquavit or an herbal malty sort of gin for a start. Frankly I enjoy drinking it straight in a decent glass ( read non shot glass) somewhat but not heavily chilled.
Bottle: Bottle is undergoing transition. Currently tall cylindrical clear glass with sharp shoulder. Plans are to bottle it in an off white ceramic genever jug/bottle to distinquish it from its older sibling and the genever wannabes that are in glass bottles.
Other: Please note this is a Jonge (young) style genever and so quite different in style from the older style and is being judged/evaluated in a separate category. While I much prefer a Oude (old/aged) style genever this is an outstanding young one.
Final Thoughts: A nicely done genever in the jonge style but using careful distillation and blending to give a very flavorful expression of this very rare style. It makes for a nice stepping stone to the Oude Genevers and allows you to explore genevers giving you a nice introduction. Similar to a well done blended Scotch gives people a gateway to single malts down the road as they learn the joys and nuances of a spirit.
A nicely laid out if simple and straightforward website, with a wealth of information about that gin you may have never heard of or heard very little of before. Also some great links to articles and other resources such as the National Gin Museum in Hasselt, Belgium ( which we toured – see pictures in our adventure section) a place which during the gin festival they turn off the water to the public fountain and replace it with gin.