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Juniper. Belgium has long been a fan of this precious berry, used to infuse brandy. The drink, known as Jenever or even 'Peket' in Wallonia (occasionally served flamed) is considered the precursor of gin. Following the renaissance of this tipple, the country has now embraced G&T o’clock, coming up with their own botanical creations. 
Here are 5 Belgian gins, all made in Wallonia, to celebrate summer days:

1. Ferme de Mont Saint Jean

© Ferme de Mont-Saint-Jean

This historical farm, used as a field hospital for British soldiers during the Battle of Waterloo, is now home to a brewery and micro-distillery. It probably would have been the case 500 hundred years ago too: beer could be used to produce concentrated grain alcohol. Here too, there are three gins to try. The first recipe, quite poetic, blends lemon, spice with touches of aniseed, fennel, cumin and lavender.  The second, infused with oak wood, delights taste buds with its vanilla notes. The last is a winter favourite: a slow gin, superb in cocktails.

2. Gin de Binche

© Gin de Binche

A play on words. You might have heard of the Gilles de Binche: the kings of the town’s carnival, colourful characters distributing blood oranges to the crowd. No wonder they chose this juicy fruit as a base note! Each additional ingredient (fennel, lavender, green anise, hyssop…) was distilled separately to add to its elegant character. We’re told it’s exquisite in a G&T with grated dark chocolate.

3. Gemblue Gin

© Wave Distil

A step from the botanical overload, this gin focuses on just three ingredients: juniper, lime zest, cucumber. Its surprising complexity is obtained by ageing the gin with juniper and cherry wood, which give it an atypical woody note. It proves quite versatile in mixology, blending wonderfully with elderflower, clementine, orange blossom or even rosemary.

4. Maredsous

Gin & T© Coralie Grassin

You might be familiar with the name already: Maredsous Abbey is famous for its refreshing, perfectly balanced Trappist beer. The region has now extended its expertise to gin. The distillery, nestled in the Molignée Valley, found inspiration in nature. Think meadows, limestone hills, wooded countryside and natural springs… There are three to choose from, organic no less! Aéquatis is fragrant with tree buds and leaves (pine, ask, hawthorn, hazelnut…), Invictus offers more dynamic notes (hogweed, hazel catkin, angelica…), while Valéo brings soothing floral touches (poppy, woodruff, St. John's Wort, mallow, primrose…).

5. Biercée Gin

©  Distillerie de Biercée

Created in 1946, the Distillerie de Biercée is led by a passion for excellence: from the rigorous selection of fruit, flowers and herbs, to the meticulous control of their maceration or fermentation and the art of extracting aromas in stills. They started with a London Dry Gin, beautifully defined as “Less is More”: perfectly balanced, with fresh citrus and slightly peppery notes, perfect chilled. Their signature, though, is Thesis and Antithesis, a more floral gin named 'Best Contemporary Style Gin' at the 2016 World Gin Awards. 18 botanicals, spices, aromatic herbs and flowers were used to create this spirit: hyssop and poppy, malt, fennel and cumin. A poem in a glass!

Cheers! Look out for Walloon whiskies and wines too…

46 Vineyards and Distilleries to visit

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