You may have heard of, or tried, this Dutch cousin of gin. But, despite their close relationship, the two spirits are quite different in character.
Genever (also jenever or genièvre) is a spirit of Dutch or Belgian origin. It’s produced using a maltwine, a spirit made with malted rye and barley. Generally, this is combined with a neutral spirit flavoured with juniper to create a genever, although there are some 100 per cent maltwine genevers out there.
There are two common types of genever: oude (old) and jonge (young). Oude genever must be distilled from at least 15 per cent maltwine, and tends to have a more woody, malty taste. Jonge genever must contain no more than 15 per cent maltwine and tends to be more neutral in character. Like gin, genevers can be cask aged before they are bottled.
Genever is a Protected Designation of Origin (DO) in the UK and EU. This means that only sprits produced to particular specifications in the Netherlands, Belgium, and select parts of France and Germany can use the term genever/jenever/genièvre. Distillers in other countries can produce spirits using the same techniques, but cannot call them genenver. Terms such as “Dutch-style gin” are used instead.