“LET'S TAKE THE GRAIN SERIOUSLY. TASTE IS EVERYTHING.'
'I realized at a young age: wholemeal bread is tastier than white bread. Grain is the keyword. At home we had wholemeal cookies: they had a lot of flavor! When I got a little older I came across another grain flavor in rye bread. That sour. Then you go on holiday to Germany and eat sourdough. Great, the world of grain. Grains have their own identity, just like us humans. Each one of them is unique.'
'For jenever you need a grain batter. Multiple grains lead to one batter. The grainy toughness of rye, the sweetness of grain and the enzymatic of barley. You ask me what are the different flavors of grain? Bucket: nice complex, rich, nice viscosity, could use some wood! Spells? Beautifully fresh, a little sweet. Pronounced, but not too much. Oats: really grainy, perhaps the most of all. Don't make your grain batter too grainy, that's not appreciated.'
'We have to go one floor further with jenever. Back to soil. What does a grain on Dollard clay taste like? And how on sand? In that respect, the grain is like wine. Grain is as sensitive as a grape. And just as complex: you can harvest both grain and grapes earlier or later in the season. That does something to the sugar content and therefore also something to your end product. And the bearing, hey: just put it on a barrel and see what it does. This way you transform the liquid and give flavors a stage. Wood as a means, not as an end.'
'What is also underexposed is the fermentation of your mash. What yeast do you use? Some yeasts boost esters, fruit flavours. My motto is: if you put so much effort into finding your grains, give your product time to ferment as well. Think good acidity. Burn with love. Yeasts add complexity to your drink. It can really add something and is actually adding flavors in a natural way. What does a wild fermentation do? Look what it does. Dare to be an extremist.'
'I love the experiment. But also believe in balance. Balance is important. Jenever is the most complex distilled drink on earth. So there is a taste style for everyone.'
Text: Wilbert van de Kamp
Image: Erikjan Koopmans