There are many stories about the origin of ‘jenever', but there is no-one that can claim to tell the absolute truth, so we leave the stories for what they are and concentrate on the facts.
Distilling grain with ‘moutwijn'* as result, the raw material for preparing the original ‘jenever'*, started already before 1600. As many spirits ‘jenever'* in it's origin was used for curing sick people. One was told that the spirit had salutary powers. Later on people appreciated the drink more for the taste than for the medicinal purposes and started to drink ‘geneva' (as it was called in those days) for pleasure.
Today almost 95% of the jenever is made in the so called ‘koude weg' (cold way) method. Simply explained: You have alcohol, you have jenever based flavor, artificially or non-artificially, you mix the two together and voila you have jenever.
The difference in taste between the different brand's is mostly due to the amount of added ‘moutwijn' and the quality of the alcohol.
This kind of jenever is mostly served very cold, advised and advertised by the big jenever firms during a long period, to ensure that you won't taste the (poor) quality of the product. This type of jenever is always on a strength of 35% ABV.
The original way and producing the best qualities is the ‘warme weg' (warm way) method. For the explanation of this method we have first to explain the method of distilling ‘moutwijn'. ‘Moutwijn' is the result of the distillation of malted barley, corn and rye. After four times distilling this fermented product the real ‘moutwijn' is created on a strength of 46% ABV. Because the alcohol percentage of ‘moutwijn' does not step across this percentage all the important fragrances and flavorings are preserved.