LONDON | A highlight of 2015 was a spirit tasting sponsored by Zuidam Distillers at G&Tea Bar inside London Marriott Hotel West India Quay. G&Tea Bar is a hidden gem just over the footbridge away from the bustle of Canary Wharf and is much more than your run of the mill hotel bar. As the name suggests, G&Tea provides a tremendous selection of gins and other craft spirits.
Genever, genièvre, or jenever, is how the Dutch do gin. However you spell it, you will not be disappointed. For us, it had some similarity to whiskey due to its use of malt which is milled and mixed with water to form the mash (much like whisky production) and being cask aged.
There was no better man than Patrick Zuidam to introduce us to the delight of genever. Zuidam Distillers is a family run artisan spirit producer whose range includes Dutch Whisky, Rum, Genever and more. At the event, we tried a sample of cocktails made from different products in the Zuidam range. The first cocktail we sampled was a twist on a Manhattan. It contained white Vermouth, Dom Benedictine, and Zuidam’s own Millstone Rye Whisky. Another concoction was served in a test tube containing ginger, honey, bitters, and Lagavulin. It was strong and smokey, with a surprisingly soothing aspect.
We left the event wanting to know more about the man and the company behind this delicious product, and thankfully we had the chance to interview Patrick a few weeks later and satisfy our curiosity.
What sets you apart from other Genever distillers?
We are a true grain to glass distillery where we do all aspects of the production process in our family owned and operated distillery. This is very rare in genever distilleries.
What traditional methods do you still retain in the distilling process?
All that you can think of:
- Milling the malted grains for the genever in Dutch Windmills
- Long fermentation times
- Distilling in pot stills instead of column stills
- Aging in oak casks
How involved are you in the distilling process?
Unfortunately I am not involved in the day to day operations anymore but I am in the distillery (almost every) day and I oversee all the production and taste everything that is distilled. Some people qualify me as a control freak.
What part of Zuidam’s history are you most proud of?
The fact that we are a family owned and operated. The distillery was founded by my father who after 20 years as a master distiller in one the big distilleries started his own distillery. He started with nothing and slowly built Zuidam Distillers into a distillery known for producing only the highest quality products.
What is your favourite cocktail made with Genever?
Both the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned are much nicer when made with 5 yo genever!
What is the best way to enjoy Genever?
As you would a fine whisky or cognac… With friends.
What does the future hold for Zuidam distillers?
Building an extension of the current location in early spring of this year and a second distillery next year, where we will continue the move from grain to glass to field to glass. We hope to grow all our own grain by 2018 with grain storage and handling on the new site.