If you don’t speak Dutch, you’re probably like: ‘What the f*ck is rogge?’ Ha, well, you should hear us pronounce it. To non-Dutch speakers it probably sounds as if we’re coughing up a hairball.
The answer is actually really simple. Rogge is rye. That’s all there’s to it. You probably know rye as an important component of the mash bill of many bourbons, and also as the most important grain in some very delicious rye whiskey’s. However, a long time ago, most Genever was made with mostly rye, and some other grains as well.
A Genever with a malt wine made from 100 percent rye? Now that’s rare, they didn’t even do that way back in the 1800s, when all Genever was 100% malt wine Genever. The reason is very simple: rye is a b*tch to ferment (sorry for all the swearing).
Most producers don’t feel like going through all the trouble to make a 100% rye distillate. But Zuidam is not most producers. Master distiller Patrick van Zuidam makes a malt wine consisting of 50 percent malted rye, and 50% unmalted rye.
As a whisky enthusiast, you might’ve encountered the Millstone 100 Rye, a Zuidam product which is produced along similar lines as the Zuidam Rogge Genever. The malt wine for the Rogge Genever matures for a minimum of 5 years, before all botanicals are added, such as juniper, aniseed, and licorice root.
Zuidam Rogge Genever (35%)
Nose: Notes of menthol, rye bread and oranges. Quite sweet as well, with marshmallow at the forefront. Finally I find some hints of pine too.
Taste: Very clear rye influence, with some lovely spiciness. Very different from the regular 5yo Genever from Zuidam. Some great sweet and sour interplay. Plenty of toffee too.
Finish: Lingering sweet and spicy notes.
If you’ve tried the Millstone 100 Rye, you’ll find it has similarities with this Genever. That’s not saying it is the same, as these are two very different products. I am convinced though, that if you like a rye whisky, you’ll enjoy this also.
It is a complex product, and in The Netherlands you can buy this for the incredible ridiculous price of 20 euro. Genever is seriously undervalued.
Photo: Master of Malt