The Original Bols Genever

The Original and Unique Bols Genever reviewed.

We’re going to Amsterdam for the Easter weekend, so thought it was a good opportunity to review a local spirit.

Genever is the traditional (and national) liquor of Holland and Belgium, indeed as a protected category, it can only be made in these specific areas.

What we currently know as ‘Gin’ evolved from Genever, and although the base ingredients and distillation techniques vary wildly; juniper is the key ingredient which defines both spirits.

Bols was one of the original genever distillers, first distilling in 1664. The Original Genever recipe was created in 1820 and became popular for cocktails in addition to drinking neat.

Original Bols Genever was relaunched by Bols in 2008 to meet renewed interest in the category and the malt wine base gives a completely different character to the flavourless spirit which often features in Gin.

Our thoughts are below.


The light citrus and juniper scent you’d usually associate with a gin are present and correct, but there is a lot more going on.

The malt influence is clear, with a yeasty, slightly sour note appearing, but it’s also floral with sweet, slightly honey fragrances detected.


At 42% ABV, the Genever has some presence and this is immediate when you take a sip.   The liquid has a silky texture, coating the mouth and no signs of the raw alcohol hit that you might expect when tasting a gin neat.

There’s a grassy flavour to the spirit, accompanied by a subtle juniper note.

Malty sourdough bread,  slighty citrus and white pepper.


Coriander and a punch of white pepper in finish – it disappears quite quickly but leaves a tingle in the throat.


“Unique” is how Original Bols is described and based on this tasting I can’t disagree – it’s certainly interesting.

As a neat drink, it’s not bad but would make a great ingredient for the right cocktail.  I’ve already tried it in a Death in the Gulf Stream which was strong  and very but good, but also makes an interesting Old Fashioned.

For the latter, I definitely prefer a Bourbon base, but it illustrates the options available.

An original, unique and recommended spirit.

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