A Contemporary Citrus Forward Gin
Made by the famous Bols Distillery
The Damrak today is a partially filled in canal running north to south through the centre of Amsterdam. Currently undergoing a process of gentrification it clearly has a place in the Amsterdammers heart. Once it was the original mouth of the Amstel river where the ships of the 16th Century East India Company set sail to foreign climes and returned laden with exotic spices. Quite fitting then that a modern gin produced in Amsterdam should bear a name that harks back to a time when the Dutch were pioneers in seafaring trade.
Damrak Gin is made by the famous Bols Distillery. In fact, it is their only gin. The rest of their production concentrates almost exclusively on genever. The recipe dates back to the 1700s and is one of the oldest known gin recipes. The Bols Distillery opened in 1575 when the Bols family opened a small distillery in Amsterdam called Tlootsje to produce liqueurs, the first being cumin, cardamom and orange.
No surprise then that the main botanical in Damrak Gin is Curaçao orange. 17 botanicals go to make the flavour profile of this gin, including juniper, Valencia oranges, as well as the Curaçao orange, angelica root, cinnamon, lavender, star anise, lemons and honeysuckle. If you counted nine you are right. The rest are secret.
The bottle is coloured orange, white (clear) and blue as a tribute to the original tricolour Dutch flag. This flag was known as the Prinsenvlag, or Prince’s flag after William of Orange. It is quite an attractive bottle and flares nicely at the bottom. Easy to hold and pour.
Quite a zingy citrus hits your hooter when you nose this gin. It is sharp and tart. I couldn’t detect any juniper – or anything else for that matter! It noses like a much stronger spirit.
Damrak Gin is like liquid summer sunshine in a bottle. Definitely a contemporary citrus forward gin. It pushes the boundaries of what a gin should taste like. Juniper is there but as a small child holding the hand of its big sister in the form of orange. There is a hint of spice to mellow the citrus.
If you like your gin to be less ginny you will like Damrak. Traditionalists may be disappointed however and feel a bit let down by the lack of juniperiness. But it has a place in my gin cabinet and makes a great summer G&T. I found it quite juicily tasty.
You can drink this gin neat. I have also tried it with Fentimans Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, garnished with orange peel strips to really ramp up the orangeyness.
With premium tonic the citrus is much better behaved and rather delicious. All in all, this is a very versatile gin and I’m looking forward to trying it in cocktails this summer.
The Damrak website is a strange contrast to the classily historical Bols image and their claim that it is created using a recipe hundreds of years old. As it is their only gin and a contemporary one at that it might explain the repeated use of the phrase ‘the best DAM gin’ ad nauseam and the slightly strange edgy language such as ‘proud to be the Amsterdammer among the London boys’. Well, yes.