Jenever Museum in Schiedam, is not just another museum. Of course, it is a place that houses historical facts and materials about genever production during the old Dutch days. But at the same time, under the museum’s roof there is plenty of modern equipment which is used nowadays for the production of “the mother of all gins”: The original single malt genever.
Walking a few steps, we left the entrance’s door behind us, and we could scent the nice warm smell of fermented yeast. We spent our first half hour witnessing the city’s tradition (in matters of genever production) and then we stepped into the distillery were we watched a small film explaining how genever is produced: First of all, the grains must arrive at the distillery. Exactly as happens in the case of Notaris brand grains used here are transformed into flour in the mills “De Nieuwe Palmboom”. The sacks of flour weigh about 70 kilograms each and are carried to the distillery with the use of trucks . Then, a batter is prepared with the addition of warm water, and the mixture is stirred for at least 2.5 hours. The mixture is cooled and drained at two different large tanks. This is the time that the yeast is added and the fermentation begins. The live yeast cells eat sugar and multiply rapidly. As a result alcohol and carbon dioxide is produced. After a few days the liquid wash contains about 6% abv.
Next step is the distillation process. The fermented wash is distilled for the first time inside a large copper kettle creating the a rough distillate called ruwnat (12 % abv). Then comes the second run and enkelnat (24 % abv) is created. But it is after the third distillation that a pure spirit called bestnat (at 48 % abv) is created. The bestnat matures for at least three years in oak barrels. Thereafter, the alcohol content reduced to a traditional alcohol content of 40 percent and a spirit of juniper berries is added. The Original Schiedam’s Single Malt Genever is ready.
Genevers developed in Holland, first as medicinal tonic, but soon the spirit spread throughout the world thanks to traders. Obviously, the Holland gin travelled to England were it was glorified, became drier and more juniper flavored. Of course, the name was shortened to gin. According to spirits historian David Wondrich, most of the “gin recipes” described in Jerry Thomas’ book “1862 Bartenders Guide” were originally created for genever! This cocktail culture didn’t get well in Holland, where genever is enjoyed straight, mixed with soda or alongside with beer. Schiedam’s Old Single Malt Genever characterized by its soft, pure and complex character could be an excellent ingredient in many cocktails. The locals suggested to pair it with smoked fish and cheese, but the truth is that I could drink this amazingly quality stuff in any possible way! We had the chance to try more genevers that we could handle and we were amazed by the variety of the brands that we could buy from the boutique and take back to Greece…