There’s Jonge Genever, Oude Genever, and Korenwijn. But is korenwijn actually genever? There’s nothing in the regulations that says juniper berries need to be used as a botanical for korenwijn. Which is kind of odd, because isn’t that genever’s most distinctive feature? I guess it is similar to all those modern gins with lots of exotic botanicals, but barely any juniper influence, if at all.
Korenwijn is very malt wine heavy: at least 51 percent of the spirit needs to be made from malt wine (the rest can be neutral grain alcohol). There’s another way to make korenwijn as well, which is to re-distill malt wine to an alcohol percentage of at least 70 percent. Traditionally, malt wine is distilled three times already, but only to a maximum of just below fifty percent.
Either way, korenwijn is a very malty product, and in terms of DNA closely matches whisky. So if you love whisky, but want to expand your horizon, than korenwijn is the way to go. Take this 1-year-old Korenwijn produced at the Zuidam Distillery, for example. It is a quadruple distilled malt wine made from equal parts rye, corn and malted barley. It is then distilled a fifth time with botanicals, before maturing in American oak.
Zuidam Korenwijn 1 Year Old (38%, OB)
Nose: Lots of porridge, but don’t rule out the oak, as it is clearly present, leaving us with plenty of vanilla notes and some pine needles. There’s a subtle juniper aroma too. Never overpowering, it complements the other aromas. Taste: Fairly sweet and sugary, with warming baking spices (cinnamon, mainly), soft pepper, and toffee, as well as coriander. Slightly dry, with a whisper of crisp green apple. Finish: Drying and spicy.
Balanced, complex and very inviting. About as good a one year old spirit I’ve ever encountered.