Every once in a while I like to throw a genever review in the mix. I find it’s a hard sell to get whisky drinkers to try Dutch genever, although the rising whisky prices seem to encourage them to look at malternatives. And what better malternative than genever, historically the closest sibling to whisky? Let’s take a look at the Rutte 8 Years Cream Sherry Cask Jenever.
Rutte Distillers is located in Dordrecht, which has an absolutely beautiful historic city centre. Eight years ago their master distiller Myriam Hendrickx bought a number of sherry casks to mature her genever in. And over the past few years Rutte have released a series that included a Pedro Ximénez, Fino and Oloroso matured genever. The final edition in their sherry cask genever series is the Rutte 8 Years Cream Sherry Cask Jenever.
The Rutte 8 Years Cream Sherry Cask Jenever is a 100% maltwine genever, unlike some other genevers that consist partly of (neutral) grain spirit. However, Rutte is a botanical distiller, which means they source their maltwine, in this case from Filliers.
Rutte is not alone in that respect; many Dutch genever brands source their maltwine. But if you’ve ever visited the Rutte Distillery then you know they at least have a good excuse for not producing their own maltwine. It’s way too small to be making maltwine at the scale that they would need.
When trying to convince whisky drinkers to give their spirit a chance, genever producers often point out the use of botanicals. Contrary to whisky distillers, they’re allowed to sprinkle in a few extra flavour components, which theoretically leads to a more complex drink than whisky can ever dream to be. For example, the Rutte 8 Years Cream Sherry Cask Jenever includes botanicals such as juniper, coriander and angelica root.
However, genever producers don’t always seem to realise that many of these botanicals are an acquired taste. They’re unusual flavours for whisky drinkers. Especially the harshness of juniper can be off-putting if used in large quantities. So, just like with good whisky, it’s all about finding the right balance. The botanicals offer an opportunity to enhance genever, but can also be its downfall.
Rutte 8 Years Cream Sherry Cask Jenever (38%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Clear notes of pine needles and juniper, but also some lemon curd and sweet oranges. There are some gentle touches of damp tree bark as well, but also cherry marmelade, mocha and a whiff of cough drops. Taste: A fairly creamy mouthfeel despite its low abv, this opens up on notes of laurel, a pinch of pepper, almonds, dates and raisins. There’s a touch of cough syrup as well, followed by orange marmalade and stroopsoldaatjes (a traditional Dutch candy made from hardened, buttered caramel). Finish: Short to medium with plenty of sweetness. More of the above.
This'll take some adjustment for hardened whisky drinkers, but the Rutte 8 Years Cream Sherry Cask Jenever is a beautiful, balanced spirit that carefully walks the line between botanical, spirit and cask influence. The low abv is not really an issue except for the finish which is a little on the shorter side. It's priced around 40 euro which I think is very fair for an aged spirit like this. Still available in some places, including Passie voor Whisky.