In 2008, the European Union declared genever a "Protected Product of Origin", receiving its own appellation or AOC. Genever can only be crafted in Belgium, the Netherlands, along with specific regions in France and Germany. The document dictating the details is Regulation (EC) No. 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labeling, and the protection of geographical origins or spirits drinks. There are eleven different genever protections (AOCs), nine of them are awarded to Belgium and four of them are exclusively awarded to Belgian genever. Holland/Dutch genever did not receive any exclusive genever protections pointing out that Belgian genever remains one of the best-kept secrets in the liquor industry.
1. GENEVER (jenever)
2. GRAIN GENEVER (graanjenever)
3. OLD GENEVER (oude jenever)
4. YOUNG GENEVER (jonge jenever)
5. FRUIT GENEVER (fruitjenever)
6. HASSELT GENEVER (Hasselt jenever)
7. BALEGEM GENEVER (Balegemse jenever)
9. O'DE FLANDER ORIGINAL EAST-FLEMISH GRAIN GENEVER (O'de Flander Echte Oost-Vlaamse graanjenever)
In the early 20th century, Belgian genever struggled through another difficult period as distilleries were completely stripped of copper during World War I by occupying German forces, which they melted down for artillery shell casings. This nearly ground traditional genever production to a halt, almost ending a national tradition. In addition to the struggles created by war, in 1919 a 66 year ban was placed on serving genever in Belgian bars. This radical law was enacted as an answer to excessive liquor consumption. Although this ban hurt Belgian genever, it led to the popularity of Belgian beer as we know it today. Dutch genever escaped the war and didn't experience same ban that Belgium suffered and continued to grow in popularity leading to the common misconception that genever is a Dutch creation. Article: Politics, Gin, and War Nearly Killed Belgian Genever
As with any cultural food and drink, the history of genever is intricately tied to the soil and water from which it grew. First distilled in Flanders, Belgium during the 16th century, where it was used for medicinal purposes, the evolution of genever is well-preserved in manuscripts, artifacts, paintings, pictures, and tradition.
Driven by wars and a 17th century distilling ban that lasted over a century, Flemish (Belgian) distillers and their genever migrated throughout Holland, France, and Germany. The Dutch absorbed much of the genever trade into their well-established commerce system, shipping it around the world. Eventually the British used genever as an inspiration for creating what is known today as gin.
During the 19th century, genever received an early place at the American cocktail bar. While the Americans were imbibing genever cocktails, Belgian distillers benefitted greatly from the Industrial Revolution and genever production reached unprecedented heights leading to the creation of a new style of genever.