Those who say “genever isn’t gin” need to let the folks at San Francisco’s Anchor Distilling — now known as Hotaling & Co. — know. Here, their Genevieve is formally known as “genever-style gin,” and for good reason. While this genever is made from a mash of wheat, barley, and rye malts, distilled in a traditional copper pot still, the finished product is then infused with the same botanicals (heavy on juniper) used in Junipero Gin.
It’s a huge difference next to a traditional gin, which is typically made from grain neutral spirits (and often column-distilled).
Recently, Hotaling introduced a new version of Genevieve. This is a barrel-finished expression that is matured for 33 months in once-used Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey barrels, giving it another dimension.
As we’ve never reviewed the original Genevieve, we decided to take a formal look at it, tasting it side by side next to the new barrel finished expression. Thoughts follow.
Both are bottled at 94.6 proof.
Genevieve Original Genever-Style Gin – Boldly malty, the grain underpinnings of this spirit come through clearly, giving the spirit a white whiskey character, redolent with notes of hay and animal feed. Pungent from start to finish, the base spirit overwhelms the botanicals to the point where they are barely noticeable at all. Some vague herbal notes manage to find purchase, but for the most part it’s a long trip to the horse barn. C / $52
Genevieve Barrel Finished Genever-Style Gin – The same spirit, aged 33 months as noted above. The nose is instantly more complex, more whiskey-like thanks to some barrel char influence, but paradoxically also more gin-like, as the herbal profile — particularly juniper — is more evident. A smoky character lingers on the nose as you tuck into the genever, where the palate kicks off with an immediate note of pepper, a strong juniper note, and some anise. As the herbal notes fade, the genever finds a very curious character on its palate — nutty, with its hay-and-barn-floor character tempered by notes of smoke, burnt sugar, and cloves — or at least clove cigarettes. While this all makes for a significant improvement over the original, it’s still a muddy experience, ultimately overwhelmed by its granary funk, with simply too many off flavors left to linger on the tongue. B- / $70