rynbende vintage genever mayor of

Rynbende Vintage Genever ‘Mayor of Exploration’ (2023)

Instead of another whisky review, I’d like to say goodbye to 2023 with a new(-ish) genever. Rynbende Vintage Genever was introduced earlier this year, reviving a heritage Schiedam genever brand with roots in the 18th century. The first expression is called Mayor of Exploration, presumably a nod to founder Simon Rijnbende’s early career as a sailor.

Born in 1777, Rijnbende was the son of a merchant marine captain. He joined his father early on and followed in his mother’s footsteps at just 16 years of age. She had been running a distillery in Schiedam, one of the hotbeds in distilling in the Netherlands. Simon Rijnbende’s distilling company became one of the signature names in genever during the 1800s.

Much like the entire genever industry, Distillery Rynbende fell on hard times during the first half of the 20th century. This is also where the story begins of the current iteration of Rynbende Vintage Genever, co-founded by Sjaak Pappe. His grandfather Job Kramer Freher secured a job at Distillery Rynbende in 1911, working his way up to manager during the Second World War until his retirement in 1963.

Job Kramer Freher carefully kept track of the Rynbende recipes in several notebooks. They were eventually inherited by Sjaak Pappe, who infused the brand with new life in recent years. It had changed ownership several times in the latter half of the 1900s, but Pappe and Erik Post (his friend and business partner) secured the rights to the Rynbende name in the first year of the pandemic.

rynbende vintage genever mayor of exploration lifestyle

In Herman Jansen they found a willing and able distilling partner. Together they set out to recreate one of the former recipes found in the notebooks of Pappe’s grandfather. Or maybe not an exact recreation. Instead, the recipe was used as a guideline and inspiration, especially in terms of botanicals.

Rynbende Vintage Genever is very much a contemporary genever. It is made from 44% 3-year-old maltwine, 10% peated malt whisky and 1% 25-year-old vodka. Yes, you read that right. I couldn’t tell you how much of an impact the aged vodka has on the final product, but it makes for an interesting talking point. Or, if you’re more of a cynic, the vodka gives marketeers something to latch on to.

The botanicals then. Though not explicitly mentioned on the website, they’ve had to have used juniper berries. (Otherwise Rynbende Vintage Genever wouldn’t be genever). The other eight “original Rynbende botanicals” are:

  • Mint leaves
  • Angelica seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Hyssop
  • Angelica root
  • Cardamom
  • Mace

Rynbende Vintage Genever ‘Mayor of Exploration’ was launched during the Genever Festival in Schiedam. I’ve heard good things about the spirit, and the IWSC judges certainly awarded it a high score. Let’s try for ourselves…

rynbende vintage genever mayor of exploration closeup

Rynbende Vintage Genever ‘Mayor of Exploration’ (40%, OB, 2023)

Nose: Juniper and citrus initially, alongside earthy notes of angelica root, cardamom and some cinnamon, as well as a touch of honeycomb. Then a sliver of cumin, but there are gentle floral notes too, such as rosewater. The oak spices become more assertive with time but play a secondary role.
Taste: Somewhat earthy, although the cinnamon and cloves are a tad (too) dominant. I can’t help but be reminded of kaneelkussentjes (cinnamon pillows), an old-fashioned Dutch candy. Touches of ginger, sandalwood and star anise. Slightly dry at times. A whisper of cough syrup and apricots too.
Finish: Short to medium. Hints of menthol, cigar boxes and maybe a sliver of peat. Like, the tiniest. But that might just be the power of suggestion.

Rynbende Vintage Genever relies on botanicals a fair amount, seemingly negating some of the (presumably) positive effects of wood maturation. The base spirit sometimes takes a back seat. For my ideal genever, the malt wine and botanicals work in better harmony. To me, it feels more like a contemporary genever than the revival of an old recipe. Then again, I can’t say I’ve tasted much genever from the 1950s or 1960s.

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