Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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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.
Tags: gin, hols
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