GSN Review: Bols Genever

The House of Bols is one of the world’s oldest distilleries, with products going back to 1575.  The version of Genever that Bols produces today is based on a recipe from 1820.  So, why is it only now becoming popular in the U.S.?  Partially because London Dry style gin became the predominant style of botanically infused spirits during the latter part of the 19th century, but also because of the Noble Experiment which began in 1919 and ended in 1933.  Some classic Genever based cocktails including the Collins and the Holland House fell by the wayside and were eventually made with London Dry or Plymouth gins by the time prohibition ended in 1933.

Enough of the history lesson.  The nose is similar to a gin, but less herbal and with a slightly vanilla quality.  The flavor has less juniper and more of a malty sweetness similar to White Dog (or unaged whiskey).  The recipe that Bols uses starts with a smooth, excellent distillate which leaves your mouth with a lanolin creaminess.  Along with this, there is a discernible tropical fruit quality along with slight minty freshness.  This works amazingly well straight at 84 proof, but is also phenomenal as a base spirit in cocktails.  The subtle flavors get lost when used with tonic or orange juice, but it works hand in glove with  fortified wine products like Lillet Blanc or Dolin Dry.  GSN suggests using this for an interesting variation in a classic Ensslin Aviation.  Give it a try!  GSN Rating: A-

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