De Kuyper has a proud 320-year history and this still family-owned company has survived and prospered by continuously adapting and keeping up with new technology. Back in the 1860s continuous column stills were the new thing. Today, distilling technology has moved on and at De Kuyper old stills that would look at home in a museum sit next door to a state-of-the-art low pressure (vacuum) pot still.
While looking like museum pieces, the old stills remain in regular use, chiefly for the distillation of gin and jenever.
Although De Kuyper started out as a jenever producer, today the company is best-known for its liqueurs. Each of these 60 plus different liqueurs are made by adding flavourings to a base spirit or spirits and then sweetening with sugar. The skill of the liqueur maker is the extraction of various flavours from natural botanicals such as fruits, herbs and spices, and then blending these concentrated flavours together with the spirit base and sugar to produce the final liqueur.
bags of botanicals awaiting distillation
Numerous different methods can be used to extract flavours from the botanicals but on the whole two processes are used: infusion and distillation.
Infusion, also known as maceration, particularly when the botanical involved is first chopped up or ground. This involves steeping the botanicals in cold or warm alcohol for anything from hours to days, weeks, months or sometimes as long as a year. Some infusions may be helped by movement or pressure.
Distillation, as the term suggests, involves distilling botanicals with neutral alcohol to produce a clear distillate with some of the flavour of the botanicals. De Kuper have an array of old to very modern stills and continually experiment to find better ways of extracting flavours from botanicals. For example, the use of low-pressure distillation enables the still to operate at a lower temperature so producing fresh rather than the jammy flavours that can occur when distilling botanicals such as orange peel.
To achieve complex depth of flavour, some of De Kuyper's liqueurs may comprise of over a dozen different botanical flavour extractions and it's common for a liqueur to include both infused and distilled ingredients. Some of these ingredients, or indeed the whole blend, may additionally be matured in oak casks.
Underground storage tanks used for storing base alcohol and finished products
A tunnel below gives access to the underground tanks
Depth gauges used to check the levels within the underground tanks
China flagons used to store concentrated botanical extracts
Transport tanks used for sending fininished products and concentrates to De Kuyper's bottling facility in Zoetermeer.