Irina Ridzuan

Dutch Courage and the Amsterdam Spirit

Botanicals in Jenever


Pouring Jenever - Pouring Jenever to smell at Odorama 8: Nosing Gin and Liqueurs.  Lisanne Groenewoud

Inspired by all the quarantinis (that is a quarantine martini) recipes plastered across social media in the past few months, it bodes to dive into the history of Jenever as Amsterdam’s--and the Netherlands--proud booze of choice. After all, those botanical scents are a large part of indulging in a tulip glass of Jenever; and as with much else in Amsterdam’s history, the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) had a very engaged involvement with how Jenever came to be as we know it.

The VOC were a major consumer and client of Jenever producers. It was noted that the sailors/seamen were entitled to circa 125ml of Jenever every two days, during their journeys (Diebels, 1988). Not to mention that journeys to the Americas or Asia could take anywhere between 9 months to 2 years! We will leave you to do the maths on your own.

But beyond the VOC’s partaking in the Jenever culture, they were also major proponents in how the recipe changed over time. Juniper is a vital aroma that makes Jenever but soon enough other botanicals and spices from all over the world were incorporated to make for a more sophisticated drink. Common spices include carraway, star anise, cloves, angelica, and liqourice. Soon, as the VOC became a major trader of spices, so did the Jenever transform: from a single botanical tincture to the complex and beloved spirit we know today.