By Kevin Gray
on 6.21.11

Originally produced as medicine in the late 1500s by a Dutch chemist, genever was a spirit distilled from malt wine. It was strong and not particularly tasty, but juniper berries and herbs were added to improve the flavor. Soon genever was a favorite drink among the people of Holland. It eventually made its way to England, and the genever base became the template for modern-day gin. And while today’s gin is a far cry from its predecessor, some spirits like Bols Genever ($33) are available today, offering drinkers a taste of the past.

Bols Genever is based on an 1820s recipe that blends a grain distillate of wheat, rye and corn with a juniper berry distillate. The result is a flavor rich spirit that’s sweeter than today’s gins, with a thick, malty backbone that’s similar to white whiskey. The light background of botanicals, including a slight juniper note, plus some fruit and bark, keep it from becoming too sweet.

Despite its notable flavor differences from gin, many cocktails now made with gin were originally crafted with genever. This gives the home bartender ample room to experiment. Try Bols Genever in some gin cocktails like the Martini or Tom Collins, or simply pour yourself a chilled measure to sip. Either way, drink some, and feel good doing it.

Buy Now: $33

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