How Distilling Began
Jenever is a domestic distilled drink, but how did the distilling process originate?
Genever has been a popular Dutch drink for more than 500 years(!) This national distillate with grain, juniper berries and herbs as basic ingredients is our most drunk domestic spirit. But what exactly is distilling and how did it come about? It is known that wine has been drunk for more than 10.000 years, spirits are still relatively 'young' drinks compared to this. About 2.000 years BC, people in Arabia and Asia started heating the alcohol in alcoholic beverages, such as wine. In the distillation process, the alcohol evaporates during heating, but the water does not. After heating, the alcohol vapor is cooled until it is liquid again. The result: alcohol with a higher percentage.
About 2.000 years BC people in Arabia and Asia started heating alcoholic beverages, such as wine. During heating, the alcohol evaporated, but the water did not. As soon as the alcohol vapor cooled, it became liquid again. The result is an alcohol with a higher percentage. This 'firing' of alcohol is also called distilling.
Did you know...
Jenever is the most consumed domestic spirit
Jenever has been a popular distilled drink in the Netherlands for 500 years. This national drink with grain, juniper berries and herbs as basic ingredients is our most drunk domestic spirit.
The European tradition of distilling in an alambic still, the forerunner of today's pot stills, can be traced back to the writings of Arab alchemists. Arab scholars distilled liquids to make perfumes and medicines. Al Jadir was a prominent scholar, apothecary and alchemist. He perfected the alambic still that was an essential part of his constant experimentation. This knowledge came to France and Spain through monks. After which the technique of distillation was 'rediscovered' during the Middle Ages in Northern Europe. The words alambic (al-anbik) and alcohol (al-kol) therefore originate from Arabic.
We let a mixture of herbs, spices and/or fruit peels steep in an alcohol-water mixture for a number of weeks (sometimes up to 6). After filtering the liquid, the flavors, odors and colors remain in the alcohol. We call this extracts.
About 2.000 years BC people in Arabia and Asia started heating alcoholic beverages, such as wine. During heating, the alcohol evaporated, but the water did not. Fragrances and colors in the alcohol behind. We call this extracts.
We let a mixture of alcohol, water (or extract) and herbs boil. The fine aroma substances evaporate from the herbs and we condense them. This is how we capture flavors, but mainly smells. The color of the mixture remains in the kettle. Bee Hooghoudt we use a traditional copper still, called Grietje.
We allow malt wine, grain alcohol and even our classic JDG to mature in oak sherry casks or port casks. The tones of the barrel, and what was once in it, soak into the alcohol. This is how special flavors are created.
An alambic or pot still releases more aroma than column distillation. Often a drink is distilled one or more times; the more often the more aroma. A pot still is a copper kettle in which alcohol is 'fired' to a higher alcohol percentage, a maximum of 67%.
A pot still consists of four basic parts:
A pot in which the alcoholic beverage is heated.
The heated alcohol vapor is collected in the gooseneck.
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The collected alcohol vapor is discharged to the condenser via the lyne arm.
The alcohol vapor cools down in the condenser to a higher percentage alcohol.