Making genever (Dutch gin)

Are you planning to make your own spirit and specifically genever or gin? This alcoholic drink is very popular in the Netherlands. It is a pure distillate made from grain or molasses, juniper berries and herbs. The Dutch are convinced that gin was invented in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Our Belgian neighbours are convinced that they discovered young genever. Fun fact: genever was given a protected geographical indication in 2008. This means that this drink may only be distilled in the Netherlands, Belgium and some German and French provinces.

Making genever (Dutch gin)

When distilling genever, you start by selecting suitable grain. In principle, any type of grain can be used, but the most popular grains are barley, rye, wheat and corn.

Basic recipe for 1 litre of genever:

  • 1 litre of vodka, brandy or alcohol +/- 40 vol%
  • 20 grams of juniper berries
  • 0,5 – 1 gram coriander (+/- 0.25 / 0.5 teaspoon)
  • 0,5 cloves
  • ½ stick of liquorice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (or sugar)

Method for distilling genever (dutch gin)

  1. Pour the vodka, alcohol, or brandy into a kilner jar or suitable bottle and mix the spices with the drink (without the honey).
  2. Close the bottle or jar and leave it to macerate for two weeks at room temperature. Shake the bottle or jar from time to time, taste, and with a weak juniper taste increase the number of juniper berries to 15 grams or allow it to macerate for longer.
  3. If the herbal taste is too weak, increase the amount of coriander. When making adjustments, leave the genever to macerate for a few more days.
  4. Allow the drink to settle and carefully siphon off the clear portion.
  5. Filter the drink, for example through a coffee filter.
  6. After filtering, add a teaspoon of honey (or some sugar). You do this to remove the bitter taste of the genever.
  7. Pour the drink into a clean bottle or pitcher.
  8. Allow the drink to mature a little longer (this will give the drink a slightly fuller taste).

The fun thing about distilling genever is that you can play around with the herbs. In addition to the basic herb (juniper berries), the following is also added to genever: St. John’s wort, angelica, cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, 1 clove, some crushed aniseed, coriander, citrus peel and dried bitter orange peel. We do not recommend using all herbs, but a little creativity won’t hurt. So, experiment when distilling your own genever!