“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.
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 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.