Day two and we’ll continue with another Jenever from the “Specials” category. This particular example from Zuidam was distilled three times in copper stills, using only Rye as a flavour grain, which makes it a speciality in the Jenever world. Only half of the Rye was malted. The distillate was aged for 5 years (!) in new American oak barrels. Rye itself is already quite a spicy grain, but nevertheless juniper berry, licorice root and aniseed were added. Here the spices weren’t distilled with the Rye, but only added prior to bottling. So again a special kind of Jenever, but I may have said that already…
Nose: Dull, very grainy and recognizable as rye spirit. Fresh new make spirit. Grain and grassy. Very much from the cereal corner of the ring. Sour bread and cookie dough. Extremely vegetal, lacking freshness and fruitiness. When nosed more vigorously, the hidden wood is noticeable. Give it some time and the wood becomes more creamy and spicy even. Vanilla and toffee. It does need to breathe for a while to compose itself. It becomes friendlier and softer that way. Butter and butter getting warm on the frying pan. (at the start of the process, before it starts to become brown). Spicy and grassy throughout. Hints of cinnamon and some anise. Nice fatty rye aroma’s. Soft. Sometimes I get whiffs of licorice and summer flowers in a field. The tiny hint of florality goes rather well with rye based spirits. This time it is elegant and delicate as opposed to the heavy and raw spirits that can be made with rye as well. Achieves great balance if you manage to be patient with it.
Taste: Sweetish and behind the sugar-water and the creamy, chewy vanilla, it is quite vibrant simple and likeable. Second sip: surprisingly sweet and soft, hardly warming though. Well, 35% ABV isn’t much where I’m coming from. It doesn’t have the taste of new make spirit. Its more sweet and creamy. Not very complex though, surprisingly simple actually. Fatty vanilla ice-cream in a bottle. The nose gives us some tension from wood and some spiciness, in the taste all that is absent.The first time I tried this I tasted it blind and from that occasion I remember I never would have guessed the rye distillate has aged for 5 years, before the spices were added.
Although this isn’t a Gin, I would most definitely experiment using this in a Gin & Tonic. First try would be with Fentiman’s. I guess, It somehow wants to be a summer drink. Excellent stuff and definitely worth your time as a sipper as well. Very accessible and friendly. Dare I just say that I find it a bit too sweet and simple? Especially since this has aged (without the spices) for five years. Lacks a bit of complexity. It comes across as everybody’s friend. If you can respect that, and don’t want it to be a 5yo Zeer Oude Genever or a 5yo Korenwijn even, than you are in for a treat. Zuidam plans to release true aged versions of Rogge Genever in the near future, meaning the spices are distilled with the spirit. I welcome that. This kind of Jenever can do with some more influence from the cask (first fill, second fill), maybe even from European oak that once held Sherry!