Bols Genever: A Revival of Old-School Dutch Gin

Explore the Original Taste of Holland Gin

Bols Genever and the Old Sydney Town Punch
The sweet taste of an old Dutch gin comes to life in Bols Genever and it can be used to make some fantastic cocktails. Photo Courtesy: Lucas Bols

Cocktailians and mixologists are celebrating the return of genever - the original gin - in cocktails of all kinds and the re-release of Bols Genever is a welcome, and necessary, addition to the bar.

While we are familiar with the dry qualities of London dry gins in our favorite cocktails, we can rediscover them in the sweeter style of the spirit's roots through this fantastic Dutch genever. Bols Genever is based on Lucas Bols' original 1820 recipe and has opened the doors for a new cocktail experience as well as giving us a taste of the past.

The Making of Bols Genever

As we step back into a time when sweet gins were significantly more popular than their dry counterparts, we should understand how a genever like Bols is made.

The same grain alcohols and botanicals (give or take) are used in this genever as are found in the average London dry. It is the use of a malt wine that sets genever apart. Bols' malt wine makes up 50% of the spirit and it is made from a triple-distilled rye, corn, and wheat mash distilled in copper pot stills.

By blending this sweeter distillate with the typical gin base, a sweet, smooth spirit is formed that is probably as close to the very first gin as we will see.

Drinking Bols Genever

Though genever is often slurped hands-free from a small tulip glass, Bols Genever shines in cocktails and this is where we should focus. It has a lush profile that is sweet, but not overly sweet. When that aspect is paired with gin's required juniper, the result is fascinating.

It is with a genever like Bols that we should rediscover this spirit and the classic cocktails in which it originally appeared. Drinks like the Fancy Gin Cocktail, Gin Fix, and Gin Daisy originally used genever. Other classics like the Pegu Club and Clover Club are transformed into spectacular drinks with a shot of Bols.

There are also modern mixologists who relish in the chance to create new cocktails with genever. The Aura In Me, for instance, is an impressive mix of elderflower, pine honey, pink pepper, and cardamom that is given the classic foam style that only comes from use of an egg white.

Bols can also be an aromatic delight when heated as the botanicals come alive under the warmth. The Hot Bols Genever Punch is a fantastic party punch with old-fashioned style and a delightful spice mix.

Tasting Notes

Rich grains fill the distinct nose with sweet cherry and malt tones. Bols' palate is rich and smooth with malt and juniper vying for domination, although both are just below the silky surface. The finish has tangy grass notes and is quite poignant as it leaves a sweetness behind.

About Bols Genever

  • Dutch genever from Lucas Bols' original 1820 recipe.
  • Triple distilled using 50% malt wine and neutral grain spirits, infused with natural flavors.
  • Imported from Holland
  • 42% alcohol/volume (84 proof)
  • Retails for around $38/750ml bottle
  • Bols was on the US market until Prohibition and was not available again until the summer of 2008.