Monday, November 22, 2010

Zuidam Oude Genever (5 yr)


Zuidam Single Barrel Oude Genever 5 year old

Today I received this bottle of Zuidam (pronounced Zoo-dam) as a gift so it seemed the perfect place to start. My experience with Genever (the Dutch word for juniper) in the oude style had been previously limited to the Bol's 6 y.o. expression.

Genever comes mainly in 2 expressions, the "oude" (old) and "Jonge" (young) style which is not a matter of aging but rather of the technique of distillation and main ingredients used.

The Bols 6 and the Zuidam 5 may both be oude Genevers but that seems to be where the similarities end. Where the Bols is clear and malty the Zuidam is amber and sweet. Indeed, it's very difficult to get past the malt nose on the Bols. In contrast the Zuidam has complex layers that bring you deeper and deeper into the glass. Clean citrus, vanilla, baking spices. Like a fine aged rum or cognac.

The base is distilled three times in a pot still from Malted Barley, Rye and Corn. Coriander from Morocco, angelica root, juniper berries and iris root from Italy, licorice root from India, sweet oranges and whole lemons from Spain, and whole vanilla beans from Madagascar make up the nine botanicals that are distilled separately then blended back together to create many distinct layers of flavor. Fred van Zuidam and his son Patrick make up the father son distilling team that literally search the world over for the best natural ingredients available.

The old world care and small batch aging in new (or very young) American white oak casks is evident. The "really silky smooth" mouth feel, rich vanilla and toffee notes bragged about on the manufacturer's website are present. A drop of mineral water and I'm transported to the tropics. This reminds me more of a "planter's best" (thanks for the new lingo Dave) style rhum than the thick, chewy malt and corn of the Bols. Clearly there must be as much range in the Genever family as any other spirit. Hopefully these catch on in the US!

Since we're talking Genever in a premium, old style I thought the best cocktail test for this would be an "Improved Gin Cocktail" ala Jerry Thomas.

Original Recipe

Improved Brandy Cocktail
(Use ordinary bar-glass.)
Take 2 dashes Boker's (or Angostura) Bitters.
3 dashes gum syrup.
2 dashes Maraschino.
1 dash Absinthe.
1 small piece of the yellow rind of a lemon,
twisted to express the oil.
1 small wine-glass of brandy (gin).

Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice, shake well,
and strain into a fancy cocktail glass, put the lemon
peel in the glass and serve. The flavor is improved by moistening the edge of the cocktail glass with a piece of lemon.

My Translation

2 oz Zuidan oude Genever 5 yo
1/4 oz Small Hands Gum Syrup
1 (almost full) bar spoon Luxardo Maraschino
1/2 bar spoon* Angostura bitters
1/2 bar spoon Bokers Bitters (by Adam Elmegirab)
1/2 bar spoon Kubler absinthe

Mix well in (a Yarai Japanese mixing glass from preferably of course!) 1/2 filled with hand-cracked ice. Strain into coupe cocktail glass. Zest lemon rind over top, rub rim and discard.
*My 30cm Japanese "teardrop" bar spoon holds between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp

Zuidam oude 5 "Improved Gin Cocktail"

Wow! Very different than Bols for this one. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the Bols in this cocktail too. This new bottle tells me there's more to this whole Genever range though, and the "Improved" gin cocktail makes a great benchmark drink.

This is a drink better enjoyed through direct experience rather than listening to my clumsy tasting notes, but if pressed I'd describe this cocktail as soft and sweet with good balance and depth. The maraschino and absinthe survive surprisingly well and support rather than overpower the Genever. The lemon oils gives nice clean lift, and pull what could be a sweet cloying taste up to a more refreshing balance. The prof comes through again. Thank you Jerry!

(Also...special thanks to "Cousin Joe" for sending this exquisite treat and excellent addition to the shelves here at "The Lab"! Your generous spirit shall be rewarded when next you visit.)

1 comment:

  1. If it smelled like coriander then the coriander smell would win out. But, Glass bottles Suppliers