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rye whisky


The word Jenever [ye-nay-ver] derives from the Dutch ’Jeneverbes’, meaning Juniper. Genever is the Old Dutch (Flemish) for Jenever. Until the 19th century Dutch ’Jenever’ was called ’Genever’, so there is no real difference between the two words. The two words both describe the same product.

Jenever should not be referred to as ’Dutch Gin’; this is because another product by that name already exists. This other ’Dutch Gin’ is in fact an imitation of the English style ‘London Dry Gin’. As Jenever was created before Gin, it would be more correct to identify Gin as ’English Genever’, but as English gin doesn’t closely resemble jenever, that too is inappropriate. Therefore calling the two categories, as they are, Gin and Jenever, is a less strenuous, and more exact practice.

While Gin can be easily simplified as a diluted neutral spirit which is then flavoured with botanicals, Jenever is far more complicated. Jenever involves the blending of two things, neutral grain spirit and ’Moutwijn’ (Malt wine).’Malt wine’ closely resembles whisky, which is also made from a mash. The ’Malt wine’ mash can consist of a mixture including any of the following: malted barley, wheat, corn or rye. Malt wine is distilled to a minimum alcoholic strength of 46% a.b.v, and a maximum alcoholic strength of 48% a.b.v.

It should also be noted that the Dutch word ’Wijn’, although commonly translated as ’wine’, also refers to other types of alcoholic product, not just wine from grapes.

Once the ’Moutwijn’ is distilled, part of it is distilled again with botanicals; another part is redistilled as it is (i.e. with no botanicals). The two distillates are then recombined, then blended with ’neutral spirit’ (from grain, or molasses). The ratio of ’moutwijn’ to ’neutral spirit’ determines amongst other things what type of jenever the end product will be.

Jonge Jenever translates as ’young jenever’, though it refers more precisely to the newer ’style’ of jenever (post-WW2). Jonge Jenever can only contain a maximum of 15% malt wine, while at the same time having a limit of 10 grams of sugar per litre. This means that Jonge jenever is less pronounced, with regards to the taste of ’moutwijn’, while at the same time being less sweet compared with its older style counterpart.

Oude Jenever translates as ’old jenever’, though it refers more precisely to the older ’style’ of jenever (pre-WW2). Oude jenever must contain a minimum of 15% malt wine, while at the same time having a greater sugar allowance of 20 grams per litre. This means that Oude jenever is more pronounced in its ’moutwijn’ taste, and at the same time being doubly sweet.

Korenwijn (Corenwijn, Corenwyn), translates as ’cornwine’. Korenwijn must contain at least 51% of malt wine, but no more than 70% malt wine. Korenwijn must not contain more than 20 grams of sugar, per litre.


Jenever Cocktails:

Dutch Trade Winds, Le Steenworde

Dutch Trade Winds

2 shots Jenever
½ shot Curaçao (or triple sec)
½ shot fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon twist.

Le Steenworde

2 shots Jenever
1 shot fresh lemon juice
½ shot sugar syrup

Shake with ice, then strain into ice filled whisky glass; garnish with a lemon slice.

If anyone knows of any other "good" jenever cocktails, please let me know.


© 2006, "the Thinking Bartender", George Sinclair.