William Henry Hazlitt has once said, “Gin, the modest and much-vilified liquid that is the most English of all alcoholic beverages.”
Today, we can talk broadly about two types of gin – English and Dutch gin. The English gin is popular in Britain and its former colonies, America and Spain. Dutch gin, on the other hand, is more popular in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany and is called either genever or jenever, respectively. Jenevers and genevers are usually lower in alcohol (36-40 degrees) than English gins.
But what other difference do they have, in addition to alcohol content, and do the British and the Dutch also have an eternal dispute, like the Scots and the Irish do, as to who was first?
Compared to the history of whiskey, where disputes over who was the first still exist today, the issue of gin is clear, and it is known that gin originated in the Netherlands and later moved to England. Jenever (Belgium) or genever (Netherlands) have higher spice and malt content and are barrel-aged drinks from which gins have historically been developed.
The Dutch genever is significantly different from the English gin. Dutch genever is distilled two or more times in the same factory, with barley malt and maize added to the mixed cereals (rye and wheat) and aged in oak barrels, which makes this drink whiskey-like at times. The Dutch genever and the very similar Belgian jenever have less alcohol and are more flavored than the typical English gin.
Some genevers are aged for 1 to 3 years in oak barrels, such as korenwijn (grain spirit), a typical deluxe genever, with a higher malt wine content (at least 51%) in the original product, kept in oak barrels for three years. In terms of its aroma and taste bouquet, it is in many ways similar to good malt whiskeys.
Both English and Dutch gins are a kind of interesting drink, and at the end of the day, everything comes down to personal taste. But if you’re looking for something new and interesting, give genever a chance, and maybe you’ll find a new long-sought-after favorite.