Filliers is one of the largest producers of Genever. This distillery in Bachte-Maria-Leerne, a small town in Belgium with only a few thousand inhabitants, is a great starting point for my first ever tasting note (well, actually second, but let’s pretend that never happened) on Genever.
Karel Lodewijk Filliers was the first in the family to try his hand at distilling, and he got his brother Ferdinand Bernard involved as well. Both were born at the end of the 18th century, but the archives of Filliers don’t exactly say when the two brothers actually developed their passion for distilling. What is known however, is that their nephew Kamiel succeeded his two uncles in 1836.
Originally a farm distillery, Kamiel Filliers first received a license for his operation in 1880. This is also the year that he installed a steam machine in the distillery, making it possible to distill on a much larger scale. With Filliers Distillery officially turning 138 years old this year, it is fair to say that Filliers has been around for a few years now.
Three generations. From left to right: Emile, Louis and Bernard Filliers. (Photo: Rob Mitchell)
Nowadays the family business is led by the fifth generation, Bernard, while the sixth generation is waiting in the wings. Over the years Filliers has grown to be the largest producer of Genever in Belgium. A dirty little secret of the Genever industry however, is that a lot, if not most producers in Belgium and The Netherlands source their malt wine from Filliers. Indirectly, that makes Filliers responsible for the production of dozens of different brands of Genever.
So, enough of a history lesson. Time to move on to the actual tasting. I’ve chosen a special, limited release to kick things of with. Filliers 12 Years Oude Graanjenever is made with a malt wine consisting of 50 percent malted barley and 50 percent rye, as opposed to their younger releases, which use maize as well. The maturation then took place in American oak and French Limousin oak, where they were blended with juniper distillates.
Filliers 12 Years Oude Graanjenever (38%, OB)
Nose: This is surprisingly fruity, with pleasant aromas of fresh apples and oranges, balanced by milk chocolate and vanilla. Some varnish is a further indication of a long maturation period. Taste: The palate is gentle and superbly balanced. Sweet vanilla, oranges and licorice all play well together with a malty base and some greener notes. Finish: Wood spices take over here. Medium in length.
A drink to savour and sip. Very good and extremely balanced. Released a few years ago, this is surprisingly still available (if you know where to look).