Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oud Schiedam

At some point in my stay in the Netherlands, someone pressed into my hand a small glass of jenever and told me to try it. It tasted vile. Like turpentine, mixed with paint thinner, steeped in the original Listerine. Karel saw my experession of horrified dismay, and told me, "And that's why I don't drink jenever."

Jenever is gin, but since the drink received EU recognition, it can only be called jenever if it comes from the Netherlands, and two provinces in Belgium and Germany. Conversely, I have no idea if the British have trademarked "gin" for their own, but in any event, they are one and the same: juniper-berry-flavored vodka, essentially. And no city in the Netherlands is more famous for this fruity concoction than...Schiedam.

History buffs know that London did not originate as London, but rather as a cluster of villages that grew into each other. The same is true of Schiedam, and, for that matter, the entirety of the Netherlands in and around Rotterdam. At some point in history, Schiedam and Rotterdam were seperate entities, but these days, they've fused to become one, and really the only thing distinguishing them is...well, I have no idea, really.

We'd gone to Schiedam to take in the picturesque promises from the little brochure that came with Karel's order of oil lamps, and to visit the little store which sells them. It was a cloudy day when we boarded the water taxi out of Dordrecht, but boats are always a lot of fun and for some reason, even though the view was dismal for most of the trip, it was still quite an enjoyable trip. The only accepted mode of payment, if you're interested in taking it, is the OV Chip card, so make sure yours is loaded.

Once in Scheidam, we quickly discovered that it was not quite as picturesque as the brochure made it out to be. They didn't lie, exactly, about the windmills or the beauty of the Lange Haver. They just...failed to mention it was all surrounded by...Rotterdam. Nevertheless, we were here, on a rare day off together, and we were going to have fun, damn it.

"Fun" for the day ended up being a trip to the Jenever Museum, a museum showcasing the production and history of Holland's most famous drink. It's a nice little museum--you are free to poke and prod and touch and look at stuff--and in the end, you can have a nice little tipple at the bar (cost: €3 per dram of Oud Schiedam). There are those infamous "And this is how it's made" videos from the 1980s, complete with bad hair and worse beards, that can be played at the push of a button. It was no Ketel No. 1 tour, but there could have been worse ways to spend our day in Schiedam.

As for the Oud Schiedam: it tasted like a very mild whiskey--indeed, the bartender told us that the "good stuff" (as I was already thinking of it) was aged for 3 years in old whiskey barrels, which accounted for the lovely, almost creamy taste. A far cry from the engine-degreaser that I'd tried earlier--which just goes to say that there is, in fact, jenever worth drinking. But by far the best part of the tasting was, in my opinion, the little "hat" the glass came with. The glass-with-hat can also be bought at the museum for €5--but considering that it would be a 2-hour train ride back to Nijmegen, we decided better of it.


  1. nice...Greetings from Indonesia ... Warm greetings always

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