Gin or Jenever

Gin, Jenever, Genièvre, Genever or Geneva

Before Gin There Was Jenever

Copper distillery kettles at Wynand Fockink 

Rembrandt Korenwijn from Van Wees Distillery De Ooievaar

Did you know that ...
.. the Dutch invented gin?

Jenever is gin’s lesser-known forefather and originated in the Netherlands in the 13th century*. It is a clear, malted grain-based spirit produced using juniper berries.

Dutch gin is a distinctly different drink from English-style gin; it is distilled with barley and sometimes aged in wood, giving it a slight resemblance to whisky.

Old and young

There are two types: Jonge (young) which is the closest in taste to gin, and normally drunk neat and very cold, and Oude (old).

Jonge jenever has a neutral taste, like vodka, with a slight aroma of juniper and malt wine. Oude jenever has a smoother, very aromatic taste with malty flavours.

William of Orange

Although England became a market for Dutch Genever from the 16th century onwards, the drink really came into fashion in 1689, when Dutch King William of Orange  was on the English throne. He boycotted imports of popular Brandy produced in enemy France and, as a consequence, Genever’s popularity in England became enormous.

English distillers tried to reproduce the spirit because it was such a success. However, they lacked the right recipe. So they developed their own version of genever, which became known as gin.

Dutch brands of gin

Many of today's leading Dutch Genever distillers can trace their origins back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Examples include such firms as Bols (founded 1575) and de Kuyper (1695). Other Dutch brands of gin are: Damrak Gin, Bokma, Claeryn, Hartevelt, Hoppe, Rembrandt Korewijn, Old Geneva, Klarenaer, Jonge Wees .

In Amsterdam, jenever is still made by The Stillery, Van Wees and Wynand Fockink/Lucas Bols.

* Jenever was already known in the late Middle Ages and was used as a medicine as early as the 1500s. It was sold in pharmacies and used to treat such medical problems as kidney ailments, lumbago, stomach ailments, gallstones, and gout.

Synonyms for a glass of jenever:

  • Borrel
  • Hassebassie
  • Jajem
  • Neut
  • Pikketanussie
  • Jonkie (for Jonge jenever)
  • Oorlam
  • Recht-op-en-neertje
  • Kamelenrug
  • Over-'t-IJ-kijkertje

Traditionally Jenever is served in a stemmed tulip-shaped glass filled to the brim

tips for tourists

Visit one of Amsterdam's authentic decorated beer or jenever tasting rooms

Have a Drink in Amsterdam's Oldest Pub

Café Loetje

serves the best tenderloin steaks in town

Blue Amsterdam

Relaxed panorama bar with 360° view of the city

Café de Toog

former hangout of rock 'n' roll star and painter Herman Brood. Great place for a drink

Amsterdam's Best Terrace Cafés

the most idyllic café terraces in the centre of Amsterdam