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Cocktails and spirits - Wynand Fockink

By May 02, 2017 ,

Those of you outside of the Netherlands may be unfamiliar with the name Wynand Fockink. Tucked away in a side street off Dam square in Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands oldest distilleries. Many people visiting Amsterdam may have visited the tiny proeflokaal and distillery and availed of a kopstootje (beer and genever chaser). They were founded in 1679 and the actual tasting room has not changed much since then. 

Surprisingly, it's not all tourist trade at Wynand Fockink, it's almost a 50/50 split between locals and curious tourists.  I'm always in awe of history and love nothing more to visit places like this that are keeping it alive. Not only that, they are moving forward and bringing that taste of history with them too.

Wynand Fockink have more than 70 products to their name consisting of genevers, bitters, brandies and liqueurs. Not much has changed in the way of processes and all beverages are produced on site and bottled by hand. It is a very small operation but with a very large range. This however has not detracted from their quality, it is very much about working with real ingredients and producing artisanal drinks that are held in high esteem by many bartenders. 

They also want to bring back the focus on true Dutch products. In the Netherlands corenwyn and genever are very much perceived as an old persons drink and are often ignored in place of trendier drinks such as vodka and gin. Speaking with brand Ambassador Joeri Remeeus he said that the products should be seen as premium brands that speak for themselves. They have more diversity than people think and can be utilised more easily in cocktails. Bartenders such as Tess Posthumus are paving the way to revitalise the use of genever in cocktails and bars such as The Tailor in Amsterdam are already using many of the Wynand Fockink range in their cocktails. 

Distiller Joyce Keuker

I also met with two of the main distillers; Monique ten Kortenaar and Joyce Keuker. Monique's career started within food technology, she then joined Bols as a quality manager almost four years ago, before getting more involved in the distillery side a year ago. Joyce's background was in the beer industry before joining Wynand Fockink, she has been a distiller for three years now.

 Both women take pride in what they do and see that genever and corenwyn can be just as diverse  as what is produced within the whisky and bourbon industries. They also have a strong sense of the history of their brand and have an interest in reviving older spirits that are no longer made.

Distiller Monique ten Kortenaar

Despite the many liqueurs that they produce, both have a preference for the stronger spirits and don't really have what you would call a sweet tooth. Monique sees her best product as the Superior Genever and Joyce's choice would be the Spelt Genever, which she likes to call ''Dutch grappa". Both distillers are avid Corenwyn 6 & whisky drinkers and have a preference for Islay malts. 

Naturally, whilst talking about the products, we also spoke about food matching. Genevers and Corenwyns are more of a digestif, but also pair well with some older Dutch cheeses. They also pair well with blue cheese such as Shropshire Blue and French cheese such as Petit Tourtain or could be served tapas style with small bites. Many of the liqueurs on offer would also work well with desserts, rather than the traditional port and dessert wine selection.

So, when not cooped up in the distillery, Joyce and Monique have also joined forces to form the Dutch Female Brewers & Distillers Guild. Distilling and brewing are still seen as male dominated industries. For many women it may simply not appeal as a career, but doors have started to open and many Dutch distillers and brewers now employ women behind their stills and vats. The guild was seen as a way of knowledge sharing and networking within the industry for women. While there may still be an element of gender bias within the industries, it's people like Monique and Joyce who want the focus to be on the quality of the products they produce, not the people behind it. 

So, the next time you happen to be in Amsterdam, take a trip to Pijlsteeg just off Dam Square and sample a little bit of history.


Wynand Fockink Tasting room & Liquor store
Pijlsteeg 31
1012 HH Amsterdam

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