Schnapps is not schnapps, corn liquor is not corn liquor, and Belgians refuse to hear a word against their „Genever“. In this respect the best opportunity to test your own sense of smell and taste is take a visit the National Genever Museum in Hasselt. True, there is plenty of competition from the attractive narrow alleyways in the historic centre of Hasselt, but the real aim of the visit is undisputed. In the „town of Genever“ you have to find out more about its history. The „Witte Nonnenstraat“ shows the way. The Genever Museum is located in an old Franciscan convent dating back to the 17th century, known popularly as the „White Nun“. Around 1803 the convent was converted into a distillery, which was still in operation until a few decades ago. After expensive restoration, the fully equipped Genever distillery opened its doors to visitors in 1987 to enable them to take a tour of the fascinating history of Genever production.
A film show (in Dutch, French, German and English) in the old ox stall explains the long tradition of alcohol distilling from the mediaeval alchemist´s chamber to industrial production. Corn distilling in Flanders has always been based on local grain. But there is another natural treasure growing on the heathland east of Hasselt, juniper berries which give Genever its inimitable aroma. On a tour of the various rooms in the museum you simply have to stop for a while at the „aroma bar“. This is a real test of your sense of smell. Does the schnapps smell of juniper, caraway, aniseed or gentian? The proudest exhibit in the museum can be found in the distilling room: a complete 19th century steam distillery taken from an old works in Malmedy. The museum also contains a few stories to give visitors pause for thought: alcohol as a dangerous drug and a danger to health.The end of the tour is a real test for your nose and tongue. The admission price includes a nip of the local Genever in a test bar, which also offers non-alcoholic drinks. And anyone looking for a souvenir to take home can choose from around 140 different sorts of Genever made by more than 60 producers.