Above: The exterior of PROOF, a shop and tasting room

A Gin Renaissance in Flanders

On my recent trip to Ghent, Belgium, I came across Proof, a newly opened shop and tasting room that carries a variety of the best and rarest spirits from all over Europe. Its most interesting bottles are the gins being produced by new distilleries in Flanders. (This represents a local renaissance, since jenever, the juniper-flavored liquor from which gin evolved, was born in the Low Countries during the 13th century.)

A selection of limited-edition liquors at PROOF - PROOF

By the end of the 19th century, gin had become so popular in Belgium that it was having a deleterious effect on worker productivity, which resulted in a 1919 law banning its sale in cafés. This statute, which was calamitous for Flemish gin production, wasn’t repealed until the 1980s, by which time only a handful of distilleries remained. Now a new artisanal gin movement has developed.

A bottle of Ginderella gin by Heynsquared - Heynsquared
A bottle of Save the Queen Gin - Save the Queen Gin

The two outstanding Flemish gins are Ginderella, seasoned with wild botanicals — Herb Robert, Japanese knotweed and lesser swine cress among them — gathered from parks in Ghent, and Save The Queen, which is flavored with raw honey from urban hives.

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Above: The exterior of PROOF, a shop and tasting room

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