Organised by gin enthusiasts Jo and Jason, who aim to showcase new gins and give the gin lovers amongst us, even more knowledge of our favourite tipple!The evening was a meet the maker event with Zuidam Distillery, in an intimate setting of the Marine Room at The Harbour Hotel in Brighton. We were greeted in the best possible way, with a warm welcome and a cold glass of Dutch Courage Dry Gin, garnished with lemon and paired with a Fentiman’s Tonic Water.
Once settled in our seats, we were introduced to our hosts for the evening JP and Tom from Zuidam Distillery. Before we got started with the tastings, we were served some Bitterballen, which is a traditional Dutch snack, (it didn’t look all that tasty but it really nice.)
Zuidam Distillery was started in 1975 by Fred Van Zuidam, he bought a piece of land on the
Baarle-Nassau border and built a 300sqm warehouse, which housed one copper pot still and one production line.
For Fred it was all about the quality of the spirits that he produced and the appearance of his bottle wouldn’t make any difference to people’s opinion of his product, so he used the same bottle for each spirit he made until his wife Helene decided to create all the bottle labels and packaging.
Fast forward to today and Zuidam Distillery has become one of the finest distillers in the Netherlands and has grown to a 36,00 sqm distillery with four production lines. They are thought to be the only distillery in the world that mill their grains using windmills.
Both Fred and Helene are still involved in the business today, along with sons Patrick and Gilbert, who spent their childhood running around the distillery and climbing on the stills.
What is Genever?
Genever is a blend of two different spirits, the base spirit being malt wine and a neutral spirit that is infused with juniper. The way Genever is made differs from distiller to distiller, some only add juniper berries while others use up to 10 botanicals including aniseed, liquorice, coriander and angelica.
There are three different styles of Genever Korenwijin (grain wine) Oude (old) and Jonge (young). Each style differs in the percentage of malt wine they contain.
On to the tastings
Host JP took us through a very detailed explanation of the evolution of Genever and Gin, from its original taste (Korenwijin) up to the taste we all know and love today (Dutch Courage Dry Gin).
He told us the percentage of malt wine that was typically needed in each Genever to class it as a Korenwijin, Oude or Jonge. He was very knowledgeable and all the information he gave us about each Genever was very interesting.
All the Genevers and Gins we tasted throughout the evening were all served neat, so we could really taste the individual botanicals and flavours of each one, something I’m still getting used too!
First up was Zuidam Korenwijin, which is Dutch for ‘grain wine’ and must contain at least 51% malt wine, which gives it a similar taste to whisky. It has been aged for one year in American oak casks.
This had a very strong oaky and fruit taste to it and was quite dark in colour. This Genever would typically be drank on its own.
Next up was Oude Genever, which is Dutch for older but has nothing to do with the age of the spirit, it refers to the distilling technique, Oude referring to the old style of Genever. Oude must contain at least 15% malt wine and no more than 20g of sugar per litre, this leaves a much smoother taste.
I quite liked this one, it wasn’t as oaky or heavy as the Korenwijin and it had a Light floral and fruity taste to it.
The next tasting was Jonge Genever, which is Dutch for younger. Jonge refers to the modern style of Genever, it must contain no more than 15% malt wine and 10g of sugar per litre. This spirit was clear and colourless.
I thought it tasted a bit like vodka. This was packed with juniper, but the overall taste was very refreshing.
The last of the Genevers was Rogge, which in Dutch means Rye. It contains the spices of the Rye grain and is mixed with fresh botanicals of juniper, liquorice and aniseed. This Genever reminded me of Rum, as it was lovely and spicy with a strong liquorice taste, you could also smell a little bit of vanilla and cinnamon. This was my favourite one out of the Genevers.
With all of the Genevers being tasted, it was onto the Gins, but not before we had a Tom Collins cocktail made with Zuidam Old Tom Gin.
This was so refreshing, a Tom Collins is one of my favourite cocktails and they are so easy to make at home! This one tasted like it had less sugar in it, which did allow the taste of the Gin to be more prominent. It was the perfect drink to cleanse the platelet ready for the gin tastings.
First up was Dutch Courage Old Tom’s Gin, distilled with sweet orange, fresh lemons, coriander, angelica, liquorice, vanilla, elderflower and iris root. I really liked this one as it was quite sweet, and I love gins that have an elderflower taste to them. JP told us that this gin would taste nice with ginger ale.Next up was Dutch Courage Aged Gin, this gin gets briefly aged in a 200-liter American oak barrel, it contains nine botanicals including coriander, angelica, oranges, lemons and cardamom. This one had a much stronger spicy taste to it, which I quite liked, JP recommended that this gin would be great in a Martini cocktail.
The last gin of the evening was Dutch Courage Dry Gin, which is the gin that we had at the beginning of the evening, with a Fentimans Tonic. This gin had quite an earthy juniper taste to it, with little hints of grapefruit and ginger. I felt this gin was quite drinkable neat, and I also got a sneaky second tasting!
To draw the evening to a close we had one final cocktail, which was made with Rogge Genever and limoncello, this one was my favourite cocktail of the night, I loved the hint of spice from the Rogge mixed with the sweetness from the limoncello, it was very drinkable, a bit dangerous on a school night!
It was another fab evening at Brighton Gin Club, and I really enjoyed it, I left with some new knowledge about Genever and Gin and I have once again discovered some new gins to look out for.
If you want to find out about Brighton Gin Club and their upcoming events visit www.brightonginclub.com
Until next time gin lovers. xx