The French have their cognac, the Scots their whiskey. And Belgium? They have genever. For more than 500 years, genever has been celebrated as Belgium’s national and authentic spirit.
To many, Belgian specialties and cuisine mean waffles, chocolates and beers. While beer may be Belgium's most famous alcoholic beverage, genever (also known as jenever or genièvre) has been the country's authentic and national spirit for over 500 years. Genever, a protected spirit of origin (receiving its own AOC), can only be crafted in Belgium, the Netherlands, and a few areas in France and Germany. As with any cultural food and drink, its history is intricately tied to the soil and water from which it grew.
Did you know...?
- The early history of genever can be traced to medicinal purposes during the Middle Ages in Flanders, Belgium.
- In the 19th century, the export of genever to the US was six times greater than gin. Many of today's classic gin cocktails were originally made with genever.
- For centuries genever has been bottled and shipped around the world in handcrafted clay bottles which are still found in old shipwrecks. The clay bottle's iconic shape is recognizable and unique to genever.