$ — 42% ABV — Unaged
Drinkers might expect such a historic genever as Bols to be harsher and pinier than the London dry gins they're no doubt accustomed to, but right away Bols identifies itself for its smooth and round character. Just like Scotch or even some Canadian ryes, this is due to the heavy use of malted grain. It carries that very soft and chewy feel that is an immediate win for anyone who takes their martinis dirty.
Only Bols is maltier still than Scotch, and even in its unaged incarnation, it becomes very clear that genever does not revolve around a botanical list, but rather their malt wine. Preparing malt wine requires a very lengthy fermentation that takes place over about a week to develop these velvety flavors that will marry well with, but not depend on, classic gin botanicals like juniper and citrus.
A traditional 'Hollands,' legally termed as oude, requires it be comprised of at least 15% malt wine. Bols however demands at least 50%, which is what makes this such a delicate spirit, perhaps too soft for hardcore gin-drinkers. A martini made with this stuff should pair with a real pungent vermouth and — flying in the face of conventional American wisdom — perhaps go as much as one-to-one! The wine bases of the vermouth and genever make a Bols martini perhaps the thickest around.
Lucas Bols is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Established in 1575 by the Bols family, it is now the head of a conglomerate.