'I VIEW HERBS LIKE AN ORCHESTRA. THE ORCHESTRA IS ONLY REALLY TOP WHEN EVERY HERB GETS SPACE.'
'As a little boy I was intrigued by the smell of spices while fishing. At night we set off: to the Lieversche Diep. Then when the sun rose and the hazy fog lifted, suddenly the mint scent came to you. I remember well that I crushed the blue-purple flowers between my fingers. Water mint. Very sensual and softly aromatic. Mint is so diverse. Not everything that is coin is coin.'
'There are actually two ways in which you can add herbs: during the distillation in a basket or afterwards as a distillate or macerate. The way of adding makes the difference. Take cinnamon for example. Add it during the firing and if you let it soak for a long time, you will get a bitter taste. If I want the aroma of cinnamon, I add distillate.'
'People forget that there is a difference between taste and aroma. Taste is literally what we taste on our tongue. We all know what sweet is. Aromas are much harder. For example: I smell something fresh. Is it citrus, fresh spicy, floral fresh? Aromas are more complex. They don't really say anything about the drink. Gin is really pure aromas, that's why you need tonic for a good marriage. There's nothing wrong with that. As long as you look for good partners!'
'Jeneverbes is number one for me. It's a genius berry. When you put the berry in your mouth it starts with a little sweetness, just like a grape. A fresh, citrus note. Over time also an attractive bitterness. All those elements are in one berry. Just juniper would be enough. But you want complex! If you want the complex you have to have a very small sweet. Add liquorice. Always some citrus. Lemon? That is citrus. Lime? That's even fresher. Or grapefruit, a refreshingly refreshing bitter. You also need something spicy. Should it be fresh-spicy? Cardamom, fennel seed, aniseed. In an old jenever you also want more mature tones. Spices such as a hint of mace or cinnamon. You adjust your herb pack to the target.'
And don't forget the flowers. Floral notes are very important in a drink. A flower is a whole, but then again it is not. Flowers consist of a root, stem, flower and leaves. Everything has a different taste and color. The root is also essential, such as iris root (orris root), which is found in many gins and gin, and calamus root, which gives our Kalmoes Beerenburg a soft, spicy bitterness.'
Text: Wilbert van de Kamp
Image: Erikjan Koopmans