Dutch Jenever Week – Day 7: Rutte Single Barrel Bordeaux Graanjenever 14yo 1999 (38%, Limousin Oak Cask #239, 490 bottles

Jenever Week Logo

We already reached the end of our Dutch Jenever journey. It was a long journey for me, and writing the reviews and doing the research took me a whole lot longer than first expected. Lots of other things came in between, both already published and some not, like the next Master Quill week, which at this point in time is nearly finished as well. It’s a good thing I took my time, because in the mean time I somehow connected with Jenever and found out what it is and what its place is in the big scheme of things. I learned to appreciate it for the wonderful traditional liquor it is. I present to you the last review of the week and it is a 14yo Rutte, aged in a Bordeaux cask, in many ways similar to yesterdays 14yo Zuidam that was matured in two Oloroso Sherry casks. I expected both to be dominated by the Bordeaux Wine or Oloroso Sherry before setting off…

RUTTE_SINGLE_BARREL_BORDEAUX_14JR_lowresxxx300Color: Vibrant copper gold.

Nose: Very fruity. Berries, cherries and this definitely has some characteristics of wine, just not the wine itself. Very fresh and vibrant at first, but also a deep dull nutty undertone that evolves over time. Sweetish and grainy. The cask impaired a lot of aromas onto the Jenever. Waxy red apple skins. Vanilla, mocha and plywood. Small hint of licorice, some toasted cask and sometimes a light whiff of cigarette smoke. Still not a true red wine aroma, if you ask me. If someone would give me this Jenever blind and ask what kind of cask this came from, I would have been sure this was from a Calvados cask. The aroma is from apple, but also the typical acidity from Calvados. Very perfumy and fruity. Definitely floral as well. Cinnamon comes next and as we all know, cinnamon goes together well with the apple aroma this Jenever has. Nice stuff to smell. Soft.

Taste: Sweet, sweet, sweet. Apples in many (distilled) guises. First impression shows an enormous lack of complexity. Fruity, overpowering and warming, and yes, quite likeable as well. Liquid candy and although 38% ABV is not high, it seems way less than this. It drinks like a soft Sherry with corresponding ABV. Christmas pudding. More Calavados notes mixed together well with some soft and spicy notes from wood. I know this is from a cask that once held French Red Wine, but the spirit is Dutch. Having said that I can’t get rid of the French feeling this Jenever gives me. maybe this is because this hardly tastes like a Jenever at all? Am I biased by the statement on the label and the aroma’s of Calvados? I wish I had tasted this blind, not knowing what it was, would I call this a Calvados then? Even after 14 years we can safely say that the Bordeaux may have overpowered the Jenever a bit, but some nice synergy was achieved as well. It ís still recognizable as a Jenever. It has a great nose and tastes well. Big gulp now and damn, this has a lot to do with a semi-sweet Calvados (and nothing with Bordeaux or the other Rutte offerings I reviewed and tasted). Again a Jenever that has to breathe for a while, so don’t be hasty with it.

Whereas with Zuidam you get the feeling everything is intelligently planned and intended, with Rutte it sometimes is more random and spontaneous. Trial and error. Hit or miss.”Well lets not chuck out the cask, people. Rinse it out and put some spirit in it, I might like it in the end.” (And then forget about the cask altogether untill a cleaning-lady accidentally stumbles upon it…)

I hope Patrick van Zuidam doesn’t feel too comfortable now, to sit back on a beach somewhere, and just let things happen. Although the Rogge Genever was a bit sweet and simple, the rest of the offerings I reviewed here were top-notch. A clear winner. Rutte seems to be trying to find an identity for itself by concentrating on experimentation, marketing and far away markets. Everything was pretty decent though, especially this Dutch Calvados made from Jenever and Bordeaux casks. However, the bottle of the Rutte Twaalf Graanjenever started out as a disappointment by its lack of balance. Shockingly so, since I actually expected quite a lot of that one. When it got some extensive contact with air it got way better. I tasted some young expressions, maturing in American oak and they were pretty good. I should try another bottle of this 12yo, to see if the profile is just different. Knowing the Rutte 12yo, puts this Bordeaux Jenever more into perspective. The fruity acidity I expected to come from the Bordeaux cask is actually coming from the spirit itself, since it is also present in the 12yo.

In the end this Dutch Jenever Week only featured products from Rutte and Zuidam. Of course there are a lot more Dutch and other Jenevers around, as I mentioned yesterday, and I will absolutely source some more for future reviews., because Jenever is definitely worth your attention. Just let it be Jenever and don’t compare it to anything else. It’s not Whisky nor Gin and why should it? Proost!

Points: 79

Dutch Jenever Week – Day 4: Rutte Oude 12 Graanjenever (38%, The Netherlands)

Jenever Week Logo

For day 4 we return to the Rutte distillery we already encountered on the first day. This Jenever fits snugly in the “Oude Jenever” category as well, and the addition of the word Graanjenever tells us this was made from grain based spirit only, just like the Zuidam actually. A sign of quality. Together with a maturation of no shorter than 12 years makes me having high hopes for this one. But first, a history lesson and an amazing run of naming children by the Rutte family:

The history of Rutte starts with Sijmon Rutte born in 1749. Next came his son Simon Rutte, born in 1779. The Rutte family moved to Rotterdam. Both are said to have laid the basis for distilling Jenever. Antonius was born in 1806. In 1830 Antonius moved to Dordrecht and started working for a distillery. At the same time he started experimenting with distillation at home. One of the sons of Antonius called Simon Antonius (born in 1844) bought a bar in 1872 and started distilling in a shed in the back. After a while he started selling his own distillates in his own bar. The bar was closed eventually and Simon Antonius turned it into a shop, selling his (and other) distillates.

Next in line was Antonius Johannes (Anton) Rutte, born in 1872. Anton took over the business in 1905 but he died quite young and his wife Margaretha continued the business eventually handing over the reigns to her eldest son Johannes (Jan) Rutte. Jan had a son called… Jan (John) born in 1931. It was this John who started to distill with passion, making the Rutte distillery known far beyond the borders of the city of Dordrecht. John had three children but none of them showed any interest in the distilling business, so in 1991 John sold the company to a group of investors, clients actually, who loved the products of John. Erik Herter, one of them, someone like John himself, was taught the ropes. Even though the business was sold, John stayed around untill his death in 2003. Erik left the business in 2006 leaving Myriam Hendrickx in charge to this day.

Rutte Oude 12 GraanjeneverColor: Pale gold.

Nose: Very soft and fruity. Definitely grainy. Hints of Grappa and slightly soapy. Very fresh for a 12yo. Hints of butter, warm toffee and vanilla. Warm and soothing, like grandpa’s warm embrace. Yes, smells like something from the past. Vanilla ice-cream. Lots of woody notes you get from American oak. Not only soft, but also slightly spicy. Watercress! The whole is unbelievably soft smelling and introvert as well. The distinct smell of fruity new make spirit, you know, the stuff before it becomes Whisky. The new-make smell has this fruity acidity that is placed on top. It’s a bit dissonant at times. It seems a bit volatile, because for a moment, when sniffing, it is gone and then the whole becomes a lot nicer. Remember that Graanjenever is made with juniper and other spices, so those add to the smell as well. The Jenever has to breathe for a while to get rid of the volatile new-make part. It does help. Breathing makes the whole more coherent and nice. More vanilla sugar-water. I’m actually amazed that even after 12 years of ageing, this new-make aroma is still around, but now you know how to deal with it.

Taste: Starts somewhere between sharp and creamy, but turning quickly into something more chewy and sweet. Refined sugar with a splash of vanilla. Sometimes the sugary part tastes like brown sugar. Nice effect. Quite a mouth full, but also, again, that hint of new-make spirit I don’t really care for. Soft wood, with more of a vanilla pudding note. Quite a short finish and a creamy vanilla part forms the after taste, together with some bread aromas. Well this sure isn’t a Whisky, for those of you looking for an alternative. No, it is a whole new discipline, you might have to grow into. And if you can forget about Whisky for a while, and treat it as such, it can be quite rewarding, getting to know stuff like this, to broaden your distilled horizon.

I have tried more products of Rutte and liked quite a few of them. Beforehand I thought this one would be a favorite, after 12 years of ageing, but actually it starts out as bit of a disappointment. Extremely unbalanced start. I can’t get past the new make spirit in the nose and the taste, and some flavours just don’t seem to mix together well. Luckily there are some parts that are nice, so it’s not a complete let-down.

However, breathing does the trick here. It needs to be decanted. Give it time and lots of air and it becomes significantly better, but to my taste it will never completely recover, no matter how many time you are willing to give it. Still, I don’t dislike it. No. It has its charm and is definitely different from the Zuidam expression I reviewed yesterday. It is different in style and maybe is an acquired taste. For best results, buy a bottle and leave the cork off for two weeks. No, I’m not crazy. Try it for yourself.

Points: 77