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Jenever gets protected status

EU agriculture ministers have given jenever (Dutch gin) protected geographic status.

This means the traditional Dutch spirit can only be distilled in the Netherlands and Belgium and in one or two German and French provinces.

Jenever was first made in the Middle Ages. Leiden university professor and chemist Sylvius de Bouve is credited with inventing it, by adding the medicinal juniper berry to distilled alcohol.

Today, the biggest Dutch jenever distilleries are in Schiedam, Amsterdam and Groningen. Jonge (young) jenever is the most popular spirit in the Netherlands - some 170,000 hectolitres were drunk in 2005.

Young jenever takes its name from the fact it uses newer distilling techniques and contains more grain-based alcohol than the traditional malt-based Oude (old) version.

Jenever is the sixth Dutch product to be given EU status, joining the Opperdoezer Ronde (a potato from the West-Friesian region Opperdoes) and four cheeses (Boeren Leidse, Kanter, Noord-Hollandse Edammer and Noord-Hollandse Gouda).

If you want to taste traditional Dutch jenever try:

De Drie Fleschjes
Gravenstraat 18 (behind the Nieuwe Kerk)

The House of Bols - Bols being the maker of all those blue and green spirits which you always seem to need for cocktails - is a 'museum' dedicated to its produce. Entrance fee is a whopping 10 euros, which includes a free cocktail. It opened in 2007. I have not been and doubt I will. It;s like the Coster diamonds diamond museum...leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. The website thoroughly recommends a visit though ha ha.