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Snow Fun

Big Belgian Birthday Weekend: Saturday

After a leisurely breakfast at Mike's, we were sent on our way. A couple of hours of dull Belgian motorway later we arrived at our destination, Hasselt, in plenty of time for a look round the gin museum.

The Nationaal Jenevermuseum is housed in a former distillery; jenever is still made on the premises, but in much smaller quantities. The museum tour takes you through the buildings as it explains the history of spirits and the distillation process.

My favourite part was an interactive display of bottles with rubber bulbs attached, so you could puff out samples of the air inside and familiarise yourself with the smells of raw alcohol / young jenever / old jenever / jenever enhanced with various flavouring agents, like juniper and coriander. I also loved all the ephemera: bottles, advertisements, glasses, coasters and cartoons.

Distillery apparatus Jenever bottles

At the end of the tour we handed over the tokens we'd received when we paid for entry in exchange for a drink at the bar, which featured jenevers from all over Belgium and Holland. We tried the house brand and one flavoured with citrus, then we examined the extensive menu and decided to pay for another round. This time we had the strongest jenever on the list, 54% and surprisingly smooth, as well as a dark red berry-and-spice jenever designed to be drunk at the feast of St. Lambert.

I bought a special blue bottle of the house jenever, like this (the red one has been matured for longer and is more expensive):



We returned to the hotel to shower and change before sallying forth in search of dinner. I had deep-fried cheese croquettes with chips-and-sauce, which sums up why I'm so keen on the Low Countries, then we retired to our hotel room to watch Doctor Who on a very flickery BBC1.
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Comments

Closer to home, you might enjoy the Plymouth distillery. I used to be a vodka person but seeing the process explained converted me to Mother's Ruin :)
Pretty bottles!

I got very, very drunk on vanilla jenever when I was in Bruges. It tasted like ice-cream!
That sounds lethal! I usually like flavoured spirits but I didn't go a bundle on either of the ones I tried.
I'm not a big fan of gin and the like, but I'd be awfully tempted to buy some just for those bottles!
When the jenever is all gone, I plan to fill mine with sand or something and use it as a bookend :)
I must visit the gin museum before I die.
It may hasten your demise!
At least I'd die happy!
There's enough Belgium for a couple of hours of dull motorway? Belgium, man, Belgium!
We often played H2G2 tapes in the car on family holidays. Oh the hilarity when we happened to be driving through Belgium at that point!
You mean there's another reason to visit Belgium beyond Westvleteren? =:)

(Silly thing to say, of course. There's Bruges as well)

to be drunk at the feast of St. Lambert

Now there's a good means of fostering interdenominational and secular relations..
Hmm, I'm not into beer (though I do like fruit beers like Kriek) but I bet I'd still enjoy Westvleteren!