Hollandse Graanjenever
French genièvre

Jenever (also known as junever, genièvre, genever, jeniever, peket or in the English-speaking world as Holland gin or Dutch gin), is the juniper-flavored and strongly alcoholic traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium, from which gin evolved.[1] Traditional jenever is still very popular in the Netherlands and Belgium. European Union regulations specify that only liquor made in these two countries, two French provinces and two German federal states can use the name jenever.[2]



Believed to have been invented by a Dutch chemist and alchemist named Sylvius de Bouve,[3] it was first sold as a medicine in the late 16th century.[4] In the 17th century, it became more popular for its flavor.

Jenever was originally produced by distilling malt wine (moutwijn in Dutch) to 50% ABV. Because the resulting spirit was not palatable due to the lack of refined distilling techniques (only the pot still was available), herbs were added to mask the flavour.[4] The juniper berry (jeneverbes in Dutch, which in turn comes from the French genievre) was chosen for its alleged medicinal effects,[4] hence the name jenever (and the English name gin).

Old and young

There are two types of jenever: oude (old) and jonge (young). This is not a matter of aging, but of distilling techniques. Around 1900, it became possible to distill a high-grade type of alcohol almost neutral in taste, independent of the origin of the spirit. A worldwide tendency for a lighter and less dominant taste, as well as lower prices, led to the development of blended whisky in Great Britain, and in the Netherlands to Jonge Jenever. During the Great War, lack of imported cereals, and hence malt, forced the promotion of this blend. Alcohol derived from molasses from the sugar beet industry was used as an alternative to grain spirit. People started using the term oude for the old-style jenever, and jonge for the new style, which contains more grain instead of malt and can even contain plain sugar-based alcohol. In modern times, jenever distilled from grain and malt only is labeled Graanjenever. Jonge jenever can contain 'no more than' 15% malt wine and 10 grams of sugar per litre. Oude jenever must contain 'at least' 15% malt wine, but no more than 20 g of sugar per litre. Korenwijn (corn wine) is a drink very similar to the 18th century style jenever, and is often matured for a few years in an oak cask; it contains from 51% to 70% malt wine and up to 20 g/l of sugar.


Jonge jenever has a neutral taste, like vodka, with a slight aroma of juniper. Oude jenever has a smoother, very aromatic taste with malty flavours. Oude jenever is sometimes aged in wood; its malty, woody and smoky flavours lend a resemblance to whiskey.

Jenever cities

Hasselt and Liege, Belgium, and Schiedam and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, are well known for their jenevers and often referred to as "jenever cities" (jeneversteden). In Amsterdam, jenever is made by Van Wees and Wynand Fockink. Well-known Schiedam jenever distilleries include Melchers, Henkes, and Hasekamp (who export significant quantities to Africa). Near the Dutch-Belgian border, in Baarle-Nassau, Zuidam produces traditional jenevers and Dutch liquors. Other jenever-cities in the Netherlands are Groningen (Hooghoudt) and Dordrecht (Rutte). In Belgium, Deinze is very well known for the Filliers distillery.

Dutch-based Lucas Bols produces and sells oude genever, known as ginebra in Spanish, in South America. Ketel One is now more known for producing vodka, but started out as, and still is, a jenever distillery. Jenever is also distilled in Canada by De Kuyper Canada of Montreal.

Drinking traditions

Jonge jenever is sometimes served cold from a bottle kept in a freezer. However, the higher-quality oude jenever (and korenwijn) is usually served at room temperature. When jenever is drunk with beer (normally lager) as a chaser, it is referred to as a kopstoot (headbutt) or duikboot (submarine) in Flanders. Traditionally, jenever is served in completely full shot glasses taken directly from the freezer. As the glass is very cold it is advisable to take the first sips without holding the glass, leaving it on the table and bending one's back to apply one's mouth to the glass.


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Look at other dictionaries:

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