During the 1500s to 1700s, in almost every Dutch city there were several distilleries making jenever or other spirits. In Northern France and in Northwestern Germany as well as in Belgium jenever was also known and produced. It is challenging to tell when exactly and who discovered jenever. Many attribute its discovery to a Dutch doctor and an alchemist, Sylvius de Bouve, back in the 17th century. However, jenever was first used as a medicine against the plague and other medical diseases. Only later it started to be consumed for pleasure. The Dutch government eventually cottoned onto jenever’s less remedial effects and began to levy taxes on its production around 1606.
There are many plausible stories on when and who discovered jenever for the first time. Perhaps, Dr. Sylvius’s “medicine” may be more a myth than fact, though it has become a common story that almost everyone is aware of. The National Jenevermuseum Hasselt in Belgium states that jenever was created in the lowlands of Flanders in the 13th century.
Jenever, in-depth, is the Dutch word for “Juniper”. It is also known as Hollands, genever, or sometimes as Dutch gin. It is a clear, botanically rich, malted-grain-based spirit that can only be made in Holland or Belgium. Jenever is a blend of two or more distillates: a whiskey-like triple distillate made from corn, wheat, and rye (malt wine) and a juniper-infused distillate. There might be a third blend of malt wine re-distilled together with different botanicals. Essentially, jenever is the outcome of mixing whiskey and gin. Certainly authentic.
Jenever was very popular in the Netherlands, therefore a whole drinking culture has developed around jenever and the way it is meant to be consumed. Traditionally it is served in beautiful, tulip-shaped glasses, which are usually filled to the brim, encouraging drinkers to bow their heads whilst taking their first sip. Finding excellent jenever in the Netherlands is rarely difficult, thanks to the many, superb specialist bars and distilleries in the country.
What is old and young jenever?
Oude and Jonge jenever refer to two different types of the spirit. The type depends on the way it is made and its ingredients. Young jenever came into existence when imports of malt became scarce during the Second World War. The spirit was thus made using molasses from the sugar beet industry, which was distilled to a high-grade alcohol with an almost neutral flavor.
To carry the name Jonge jenever the spirit must contain no more than 15 percent malt wine and 10 grams of sugar per liter. This type of jenever contains more grain, as opposed to malt. Young jenever can also comprise plain sugar-based alcohol. The “old” in old jenever refers to the old style of making jenever, which includes making it from malt wine. The finished product must be more than 15 percent malt wine and have 20 grams of sugar or less per liter.
Korenwijn or grain wine is similar to the type of jenever that was available in the 18th century. This alcoholic drink contains up to 20 grams of sugar per liter, as does old jenever. However, the malt wine content is higher at 51 to 70 percent.
In the 19th century jenever production reached unprecedented heights. Dutch and Belgian distillers actively took part in the first industrial revolution. Steam generators were introduced and steam engines. What is more, a distillation column, developed by Celier-Blumenthal, appeared which allowed a continuous distillation process. All this concluded in a considerable increase in jenever production which allowed them to switch to a continuous distillation process.
Not to mention that new and cheaper raw materials such as sugar beets, sugar beet molasses, potatoes, maize, and Jerusalem artichokes made their appearance. Consequently, yeast and spirit factories that produced large-scale cheap, neutral alcohol were built in major cities in the last quarter of the 19th century.
It was inevitable that the aforementioned would lead to excessive consumption due to the fact that jenever was cheap. For example, in the second half of the 19th century no less than 9.5 liters of jenever (at 50% alcohol by volume) were drunk per capita and per annum in Belgium! Consequently, the authorities had to step in. They made distilleries lose their favorable regulations and forced them to pay a higher tax.
The competition from cheap industrial alcohol and the increase in excise tax was a serious blow for agricultural distillers. Their point of survival was thanks to the fact that they were selling cattle and stable manure. Many distilleries were shut down due to the rise of artificial fertilizers and the competition from farmers who applied themselves increasingly to cattle farming. Several distillers remained in the industry and became liqueur distillers, they purchased alcohol with which they prepared jenever and liqueurs.
Golden Arch Distillery
The Golden Arch Distillery™/ Likeur en Jeneverfabriek Amsterdam (LJFA) is a traditional distillery that started its course already from 1985. In 2009 there was a new brand launched under the name Likeur & Jeneverfabriek Amsterdam. Since 2013, The Golden Arch Distillery™ produced and bottled multiple white-label spirit productions for various well-known brands in the market. Here, we work with a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge. We have become known for our unique products with truly distinctive flavors. Our collection consists of a wide range of Amsterdam Jenevers, Bitters, Vodka, Gin, and Flacons de Cuisine.
Our distillery also delivers custom work, which allows us to collaborate with products with their own identity and attention to detail. Various, now well-known private labels, have been developed with us. Customization also applies to the bottling and distribution of both large and small batches. The distribution mainly takes place through wholesalers, after which they are eventually sold to the consumer via liquor stores and delicacy stores. Within Amsterdam, several old collaborators are still supplied directly. We also produce for third parties private labels.
To enable further growth, we recently moved to a much larger rental property in the green and water rich environment of Harderwijk. It’s a relatively new building with serious square meters for housing all the facilities for LJFA brands and third parties. This new property is the production plant for backing-up all the production work initiatives in Amsterdam. Additionally, Likeur en Jeneverfabriek Amsterdam has become the main portal online for selling its liquor products from its Amsterdam distillery directly to other businesses.
Likeurs & Likorettes
There are plenty more to the Dutch and its liqueurs than just jenever. We bring splendid Liqueurs and Likorettes to Dutch companies. We have a refined selection of popular fruit-based liqueurs such as Limoncello as well as Frambozen and plenty of traditional Dutch liqueurs. Some have a long history, like Oranje bitter and some others are dedicated to special occasions like Hansje in de Kelder, with which people celebrate pregnancy and the coming of a new member in the family. Likorettes are liqueur-like products with alcohol content below 15%.