Not content with being a household name when it comes to gueuze and kriek, Lindemans brewery in Vlezenbeek has become the first brewery to produce two different gins distilled from lambic beer.
The brewery turned for the occasion to distiller De Moor of Aalst, who produce a wide assortment of alcoholic drinks, as well as more obscure beverages including goudwater (colloidal gold, considered by some to have healing properties), paterlikeur (abbey liqueurs like Frangelico and Benedictine) and elixir.
There are two gins, one clear and one red, both based on Oude Kriek, a protected appellation made by Lindemans under the name Cuvée René, notable for its use of whole cherries according to the traditional method of the part of Belgium known as Pajottenland, where the brewery is situated.
The clear gin, Lindemans Premium, is double-distilled with 15 botanicals, in small batches of 250 litres maximum, in a traditional copper alambic. The gin is bottled and the bottles corked and sealed by hand.
Cocktail expert Manuel Wouters was asked to come up with some ideas on how to drink the new gins. The clear gin, he said, is best sampled with a simple tonic water, garnished with grapefruit and some rosemary. The gin is dry with citrus notes, giving way to the spicy warmth of cardamom and the after-taste of the original cherries.
The red gin, Lindemans Premium Gin Red, is distilled in the same way as the clear, but then pure cherry juice is added to give the gin its pale red colour. Manuel Wouters suggests drinking it with prosecco. This gin, too, has a citrus freshness and spicy notes, but the cherry flavour is more intense. Try 3cl of gin with 3cl of red grapefruit juice and 1cl of sugar syrup; add prosecco and zest of a lemon.