To celebrate 125 years of its fine product, Mandarine Napoléon has crafted an extraordinary version of its delectable liqueur: The Limited Edition Mandarine Napoléon XO Gold. The special edition is a distillate of Sicilian mandarins blended with nothing less than a 125-year-old Grande Fine Champagne Cognac – resulting in a delightfully fresh and soft mandarin flavour with a delicious balanced cognac finish. Every bottle of the mandarin-infused liqueur in its robe d’or contains a harmonious touch of cognac from 1892: the year Mandarine Napoléon was first available to the public – covered by hand with 24-carat gold, combining craftsmanship, heritage and exquisite quality in and on a glorious bottle. Moreover, a special anniversary box, the walnut wood was exclusively designed to hold the product, so without a doubt, the XO Gold Limited Edition is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.
The fact that people have been savouring Mandarine Napoléon for as long as 125 years now was the impulse that spawned the idea of creating an anniversary edition. Admittedly, it was not an easy task finding a suitable cognac well over a century old. However, a Grande Fine Champagne Cognac from 1892 was ultimately found, which truly adds colour and harmony to the Mandarine Napoléon Gold. As icing on the cake, a goldsmith from a small hamlet in the south of the Netherlands has then manually covered the bottle with 24-carat gold – so the bottle shimmers and shines from within the tailor-made walnut wood box.
Many people enjoy Mandarine Napoléon XO Gold as a royal twist in the Napoléon Margarita, but since the Limited Edition Mandarine Napoléon XO Gold is made with the exclusive Grande Fine Champagne Cognac, it is probably best savoured neat or on the rocks to experience the delicate subtleties and unique finish.
If you wish to order Mandarine Napoléon XO Gold Limited Edition, simply send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. A symbolic price of €1892.00 has been set for this extraordinary liqueur and since this is a limited edition, there is a maximum of only 125 bottles available.
“By the Dutch” are a relatively new company (founded in 2015) who produce traditional Dutch spirits, focusing on their native heritage. Majority are distilled in Schiedam, Holland, the claimed ‘Genever Town’ which also houses De Kuyper, Boompjes and Ketel One amongst its tenants.
With this, By The Dutch have created and released two spirits so far; Batavia Arrack and Old Genever. Coupled alongside their small range of bitters (classic, orange and ginger), the outlook is bright as they, to the UK vision at least, offer up categories slightly unfamiliar to the bartending world.
From my own By The Dutch experiences, Old Genever is a focus at the moment for me. Made by Branderij ‘De Tweelingh’ according to an old recipe dated back to 1942, the team use a high maltwine content made from rye, corn and malted barley. This is then triple distilled within copper pot stills before then being infused with juniper berry distillates.
Botanicals are also blended, including hops, cloves, anise, coriander, licorice, ginger, citrus and many others, then being brought down to 38% alcohol.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
By The Dutch, Old Genever – 38%
Bold notes of corn on the nose, with grape must and subtle juniper notes. Smooth flavours on the palate, with waves of juniper present. Soft orange and earthy notes come though, followed by dry cocoa that leads to a lingering finish.
How to drink? Neat, over ice. Simple, effective, and well worth a place in your drinks cabinet, even if it’s for the traditional label look of the bottle itself. And it’s award-winning, claiming gold within both the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition 2016
and Global Gin Masters 2016!
De Kuyper is one of the most recognizable range of liqueurs in the world, and since 1695 the brand has been divulging into a wide range of flavours that look to innovate and impress not only bartenders, but the consumers too.
So how did De Kuyper come about, and essentially be a part of many of the bars across the world?
As mentioned above, De Kuyper was founded back in 1695 by Petrus De Kuyper, initially as a manufacturer of barrels and casks used in the transportation of spirits and beer. By 1752, the family bought a distillery in Schiedam, Rotterdam as there was a lot of grain trading and by the 19th century, the company expanded its export business throughout Europe, Great Britain and Canada. In 1911, a new distillery was built in Schiedam, Holland which was then the leading center for the production of Dutch gin or genever, and thereafter the production of liqueur began. The roster of flavors slowly expanded, and partnerships were formed with distillers in Canada (1932) and the United States (1934, strategically at the end of Prohibition). By the 1960’s the production of liqueurs had overtaken the production of genever, and coupled with the promotion of liqueurs for use in cocktails, the sales of the brand grew.
In 1995, on the occasion of its 300th anniversary, the company received the title “Royal” from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. This led to the company changing its name from Johannes de Kuyper & Zoon to De Kuyper Royal Distillers. In the same year, Erven Warnink – the leading producer of advocaat and cream liqueurs – was taken over by De Kuyper Royal Distillers.
The liqueurs themselves are split into a variety of sub-categories, including –
The Essentials; Apricot Brandy, Blue Curacao, Creme de Cassis, Creme de Menthe Green and Triple Sec
The Traditionals; Including Butterscotch, Creme de Cacao White and Vanilla
The Fruits; Including Dry Orange, Cherry, Mango, Melon and Passionfruit
The Distiller’s Signature; Including Cucumber, Lemongrass and Spicy Chilli
The current Master Distiller, Myriam Hendrickx, has been creating new and innovative flavours, such as the Cucumber expression, to positive reviews, especially with its versatility of serves. So below, I give to you my tasting notes on the De Kuyper range that I have had the privilege of experiencing so far, including some of their premium expressions and bitters that are away from the core range –
De Kuyper Cucumber– 15%
Using baby cucumbers, they are mashed into a pulp, then left to soak in neutral alcohol before being distilled. Then the brew is seasoned with rice vinegar and salt.
Rich, fragrant cucumber on the nose with a fresh offering that follows onto the palate. Thinner texture with a rich, fragrant kick that also offers a slight sharpness upon the finish.
De Kuyper Cherry Brandy XO – 28%
Made with Maraska cherries and almonds, before being blended with Grande Champagne XO Cognac.
Bold, rich notes of stemmed cherry upon the nose, albeit a little dry. Very rich on the palate, with a warmth from the stewed cherry flavours. A thick texture, long, with a mouth-watering finish.
De Kuyper Apricot Brandy XO– 28%
Made from apricots from France and Turkey and blended with Grande Champagne XO Cognac.
Rich honey on the nose, with bold kicks of the apricot and a dry finish. A natural sweetness lines the palate, with a thin yet long flavour of stemmed apricot.
The company also produce a range of bitters too;
De Kuyper Juniper– 64%
Very rich and tart on the nose, with bold kicks of juniper coming through. Rich, sweet and floral notes of the juniper upon the palate.
De Kuyper Orange – 64%
Soft, sweet candied orange on the nose, turning to a sharp hit on the palate. Bitter with a hint of natural sweetness following, then to a rich orange that offers a long, dry finish.
As mentioned, De Kuyper pride themselves in creating versatile expressions, so try your hand at some of these cocktail recipes –
15 ml De Kuyper Passion Fruit
60 ml Vanilla infused Vodka
15 ml Fresh lime juice
15 ml Sugar syrup
60 ml Champagne
1½ fresh passion fruit
Scoop the seeds and flesh of passion fruit into base of shaker. Add next four ingredients (all but Champagne), Shake with ice and fine strain into chilled glass. Separately, pour champagne into chilled shot(s) glass to serve on the side. Garnish by floating half passion fruit.
Blood & Sand
25 ml De Kuyper Cherry Brandy
45 ml Whisky
25 ml Sweet Vermouth
25 ml Fresh orange juice
Shake all ingredients in the shaker & fine strain in a chilled glass. Garnish with orange zest and cherry on a stick.
Most of you will know that the Dutch are the creditors when gin is concerned. They were the fathers of Genever, which spun itself into the category we all know and love. It’s odd then that here in the UK, Dutch gin’s are relatively low on the ratio scale. Bols and Sylvius are just two of a handful that have made it over full-time so-to-speak, and today I wanted to feature another that is worthy of your time, Wenneker.
Wenneker takes itself back to 1693, February 16th to be exact, when Hendrick Steeman erected two brandy distilling-kettles. It’s these two pieces of equipment that found itself in the possession of Joannes Wenneker in 1812, but would leave the family tree when his great-grandson Franciscus Wenneker sold the company to a malter from Schiedam named Johannes Cornelis van der Tuijn due to the lack of successors. The Van der Tujin family still own Wenneker Distilleries today, and the fourth generation team is in place, although not at Schiedam. Instead, due to the lack of space for expansion in the original distillery, they moved to Roosendaal in 1967. Since then, they have acquired a number of famous Dutch distilleries including Piersma, Duys, Smeets and Distillery J.J Melchers Wz. Schiedam (with Olifant (Elephant) as their best known label).
The Wenneker name has always produced and created a range of Genevers and liqueurs, and still use the original recipe from the 17th century as a basis for the production. This feature though will focus on its newest line in its gin category, Wenneker Elderflower. Created using 6 distillates; Juniper berries, lime-tree blossom, lemon, orange, coriander and elderflower and produced in small batches of 1,200 bottles using pure water, Wenneker Elderflower was released in 2014.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Wenneker Elderflower – 40%
Light elderflower notes on the nose, with subtle hints of citrus and dry root. Plenty of elderflower on the palate, with a long finish of light lime, and dry kicks of coriander.
A gin for a gin and tonic perhaps?
Wenneker and Tonic
25 ml Wenneker Elderflower
60 ml Schweppes Tonic Water
Combine the gin and tonic over an ice filled tumbler glass and garnish with either a wedge of lime or lemon.
Although their main brands are Genever and liqueurs, their gin stands up very well for a good gin and tonic. It would be intriguing to see how different the Elderflower and the original dry gin expression are, so hopefully see that result very soon. In the meantime, grab a different gin and tonic this summer.
I’ve recently covered a new brand which gives its name to one of the fathers of gin, Franciscus Sylvius, the aptly named Sylvius. The distillery Onder de boompjes doesn’t just produce Sylvius though, it also houses a brand of genever named Boompjes as well as a vodka called Oseven.
Take a look at my piece on Sylvius, which details the origins of the brand as well as how it is produced. This piece however will look at its two other brands, starting out with Boompjes and its two expressions. Boompjes is crafted the traditional Dutch way, and being the home of genever, you can guarantee a high level of skill will be involved. Its Premium expression is made with pure spring water from the Hunzedal as well as grain alcohol and 10% of quadruple distilled malt wine, while its Old Dutch variety contains one Juniper esprit and one mandarin esprit, both 20% of malt wine and matured individually for three years in bourbon oak casks. Like its counterpart, it’s made with grain alcohol and pure spring water from the Hunzedal.
Oseven vodka is also made in the traditional manner and comes free from any additives. It’s distilled from grain four times and then goes through a three-day filtration process over charcoal made from French birch wood. The mineral water used comes from the Anl’eau spring in Hunzedal.
So how do these three expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Boompjes Premium – 35%
Sharp on the nose with malt aromas coming through. A developed palate of grain and spice from the beginning, smooth but with a kick at the end of fresh juniper. Lingers.
Boompjes Old Dutch – 38%
Slight notes of sweet juniper on the nose, with a clean, light palate of malt and grain blending well. A little heat and spice on the dry, lingering finish.
Very clean and light on the nose, with a very subtle hint of grain. Light on the palate too, with a little sweetness and soft texture. Short, but effective.
Really good on their own, but maybe ask your bartender for one of these –
40 ml Boompjes Premium Genever
10 ml Luxardo Maraschino
15 ml Noilly Prat
15 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
Shake all ingredients and fine strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an olive.
Two very different expressions of genever, and a surprising hit with the vodka as their traditional methods of production have come through with some winners. Not widely available currently, but you can find the Boompjes here, and the Oseven here to add to your collection.
Gin is a fickle subject. Its history and origins can be one of chatter over many a juniper based cocktail, and recently it’s come into light again with the release of a brand with what some credit as gins founding father.
Sylvius originates from Holland, as did its namesake, the Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius, who is often credited with the invention of gin in the mid 17th century. Back in 1658, the Steffelaar family were, unbeknown to them, pioneering the distillation of one of the first jenevers, nestled in a small town named Leiden between The Hague and Amsterdam. The same town also held Dr. Franciscus Sylvius and his doctor’s practice at the Leiden University. It was around this time that he was convinced that juniper berries could assist in the treatment of kidney and bladder ailments, resulting with him developing a juniper berry elixer and naming it ‘genievre’. Based on this recipe a couple of years later the spirit Genever was produced by the Steffelaar family and soon after from many other distillers throughout the Netherlands.
Sylvius gin itself in now produced in Schiedam, having had to relocate due to laws and legislation that came into effect in Leiden. With it going through four ownerships (now with the Batenburg family at the helm) during its timeline, and now producing vodka as well as genever, it still uses some of the Dutch production methods, including utilising the windmill ‘De Vrijheid’ to mill the grains which are fermented and distilled to make malt wines, and eventually aged it used American bourbon barrels. They also distill their own spices and botanicals, in small batches up to 500 litres, which include lemon, orange, juniper, coriander, angelica, lavender, cinnamon, liquorice, caraway and star anise.
But how do we get from individual botanicals to Sylvius gin in a bottle?
Each botanical is hand prepared (for example they cut the zest of 30 kilo’s of oranges by hand for each batch) and once ready, all the botanicals, fruits and spices enter the maceration barrel where it is introduced to wheat alcohol. The timings differ depending on the botanical-mix, but either way the resulting liquid is put into a small copper pot still and distilled by Master Distiller Justus Walop. After cutting the heads, heart and tails, he blends the esprit with mineral water in a separate barrel, where it marries with alcohol and water to homogenise the gin. Once finished, it is then bottled by the small team by hand and sealed.
So, the finished product, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Sylvius – 45%
Rich, fresh nose of lavender, lemon and coriander on the nose, with the citrus dicing through on the palate too. Sharp hits of cinnamon and star anise come through, with a mellow turn of the lemons and a rush of lavender finishing. Long.
Great on its own, but even better with one of these –
40 ml Sylvius
15 ml Dry Vermouth
7 ml Yellow Chartreuse
1 Dash Orange Bitters
Take a large mixing glass and fill it up with ice. Add the Sylvius gin, Dry Vermouth, Yellow Chartreuse and Orange Bitters. Stir and strain into the cocktail glass.
For gins, this is a little different. Its process is different yet traditional, it has the history which will engage any audience, and makes a versatile offering to your drinks cabinet. Welcome the founding father.
The history of Hofland goes back to 1927 when a gentleman named Jacob Hofland took advantage of the American marketing model and became one of the first successful Dutch entrepreneurs after the second world war. With his company Hofland and Semeijn, he created numerous spirits that became popular with the Dutch clientele, resulting in building a production plant in 1947 that housed three stories high cellars.
An idea to create the ultimate Dutch Jenever came about and Jacob Hofland decided to use 100% grain jenever. Today, Hofland is still made to this recipe that uses a minimum of 15% pure malt. It’s this recipe that resulted in Hofland being awarded the best Dutch Jenever in 2004.
So how does this award-winning jenever fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Ripe green apple on the nose with lots of soft fresh notes coming through. Soft wheat on the palate, with the apple flavours mixing with vanilla and juniper. Hints of malt near the fresh finish.
Not bad on its own, and would go well with one of these –
60 ml Hofland
15 ml Vermouth
Pour genever and vermouth into a cocktail shaker and stir with ice. Strain into a Martini glass, squeeze a twist of lemon peel over and drop into glass.
Jenever can be a overated category, but unless you have a sweet tooth, i can see why most have never really tried when in a bar or restaurant. Available in Booths, it’s always worth a go if you like something different.
The Nolet Distillery in Schiedam, Holland has been producing quality spirits for ten generations. ‘The who?’ I bet your asking. The Nolet Distillery is home to Ketel One vodka, a brand that you may see in many a bar in the UK and indeed the world, but from a country that predominantly creates genever, vodka isn’t its calling card. But Ketel One must be doing something good to be well-known that a drinks giant like Diageo would pick it up to continue its success. So what made it so attractive to them?
In 1691, a gentleman named Joannes Nolet founded a distillery in Schiedam, Holland after perfecting his unique distillation method. Four generations later, 1794 saw the distillery under the control of Jacobus Nolet. His family members built the Nolet Distillery windmill, known as ‘The Whale and in 1867, the family acquired an interest in shipping and began focusing on exporting its spirits. The turn of the Century saw the Nolet family open a distillery in Maryland, USA but later withdrew from the American market during Prohibition. However in 1983 they were back in the US with the launch of Ketel One by Carolus Nolet, Sr.
With the momentum created by the popularity of Ketel One in the US, Nolet Spirits USA was founded in 1991. It was during this year that Carl Nolet, Jr. made the decision to move to the United States, dedicating himself to the growth of the company. The new Millennium saw the release of its first flavoured vodka, Ketel One Citroen, and the next year saw sales annual sales reach 1,000,000 cases even though advertising was done by word-of-mouth. 2010 saw the next flavour come into force – Ketel One Oranje.
So with success mounting off word-of-mouth, how is something like this developed?
It all begins with the selection of European wheat that, once harvested, it is ground and blended with water to form a mash, then allowed to ferment. After fermentation, the mash goes through the column distillation process. A part of the wheat spirit is re-distilled in small batch copper pot stills, including the original coal-fired Distilleerketel #1 or Pot Still Number 1. After discarding the heads and tails of the pot still distillate, the remaining hearts, including those from Pot Still Number 1, are individually filtered to create a Master Pot Still Blend. The Master Distiller oversees the marrying of a portion of the Master Pot Still Blend, a portion of the ultra wheat spirit and water to create the final product. Each final production run is approved by a member of the Nolet family.
So how does this family owned brand fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on some of the range –
Ketel One – 40%
Slight citrus aromas on the nose leading to a smooth offering of wheat with a slight sweetness following. A developing hint of spice near the end creates a long, crisp finish.
Ketel One Citroen – 40%
A nose of fresh citrus aromas with a slight sweetness following. The freshness follows onto the palate with hints of honey dicing through the sharp finish.
As mentioned, there is also an orange variant to try too, but before you do, how about enjoying one of these –
Ketel One Old Fashioned
50ml Ketel One Vodka
1 sugar cube
Few dashes of orange bitters
Garnish with orange zest
Soak the sugar cube in the orange bitters and crush. Take a measure vodka and slowly add, while stirring so the dilution happens slowly. Add a little more ice as you are adding the vodka. Once the sugar has mostly dissolved garnish with the orange zest.
You won’t find many Old Fashioned cocktails with vodka as its base ingredient, but just give this one a go, and definitely one to make at home.
Liqueurs is a funny category. Many of you may not realise how much liqueurs you can consume in a life-time. Cocktails, after-dinner, pre-dinner, coffee, hot chocolate all could have some kind of liqueur to usually sweeten up or emphasize a flavour. They can be seen on bars around the world but rarely would you point one out and know what flavour it’s going to unleash. Well if you see the following – I’ll ask you to tip your hat.
First bottled in 1892, but produced some time before, Mandarine Napoléon was said to be a personal favourite of the Corsican-born emperor, Napoléon Bonaparte. Napoléon’s physician, Antoine-Francois de Fourcroy, first had the idea of macerating mandarins in alcohol and then blending the distillate with cognac. The finest essential oils of mandarins and its distinctive flavour comes from Sicilian oranges. Four spices, rich in essential oils and aromatics, and two plants achieve this unique composition of flavours, with the colour drawn from these giving the spirit a natural look.
Due to the status of mandarines being rather exclusive, and able to thrive on the Corsica island of home-boy Napoléon Bonaparte. It is believed that he acquired the taste for the macerated mandarines served to him by his physician.
The liqueur as we know it today started out in 1892 after being refined according to a recipe with cognac, mandarin orange peel from Corsica, Sicily and Andalusia and a secret mix of herbs and spices. It was then matured for three years. The recipe hasn’t changed and is now sold world-wide and winning awards along the way.
So how does Mandarine Napoléon fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Mandarine Napoléon – 38%
Fantastic fresh, ripe mandarin aroma on the nose that carries on nicely onto the palate. Incredible sweetness but hit with a bold, warmth of fresh fruit and citrus as it draws out.
Mandarine Napoléon XO – 40%
Just 2000 bottles of this were produced in 2008. Mandarin peels are macerated and blended with the 27 herbs and spices that make the Mandarine secret recipe. The resulting distillate is then combined with Grande Champagne XO cognac (which makes up a generous 43% of the total) to create this Grande Reserve.
Light and fragrant upon the nose, with soft notes of the mandarine coming through. Sharp and rich once on the palate, with plenty of long, warm manadrine flavours on the finish. Exquisite.
Simple, bold, fresh. Perfect for this –
Mandarine’s Old Fashioned
50ml Mandarine Napoléon
Place one brown sugar cube into a glass and muddle with the bourbon. Add two splashes of Angostura Bitters and the Mandarine Napoléon with a good scoop of ice and stir well. Garnish with a mandarin peel twist.
Something easily created at home or in any bar that stocks a decent bourbon. Better get hunting. Bring a Napoléon styled hat too.