Yesterday saw the launch of Bols Genever Barrel Aged into the UK, seven years after the return of Bols Genever in 2008.
The new product is made in the same way as Bols Genever, but aged at a higher abv in French Limousin oak. The bottle might say '18 months barrel aged', but Lucas Bols master distiller Piet van Leijenhorst assured those at the launch at London's Redchurch Brewery yesterday that it receives no less than two years of maturation.
Ageing takes place in both new and old barrels - new for the first six to eight weeks. Van Leijenhorst explained that the old barrels have little direct effect and 'are only used for oxidation'.
The spirit that goes into the barrel contains more than 50% malt wine, the grain distillate that gives genever its whisky-like characteristics. It also contains a number of botanicals - juniper, of course, as well as hops, ginger root, liquorice, cloves and more.
Bottled in a very attractive dark clay jug - a take on the traditional genever receptacles dating back to the 17th Century - the spirit (at 42% abv) is very approachable and gentle, retaining plenty of those hallmark grain and spice genever notes, but softened by some gentle vanilla fudge and slight caramel too.
It's excellent on its own, particularly alongside a beer in the traditional Dutch boilermaker, or kopstootje. Brand ambassador John Clay demonstrated the correct way to fill a tulip-shaped glass to just over the brim with genever, while Redchurch provided an excellent accompaniment in the form of a barrel-fermented saison.
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