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As a resident of the Hague, I love to bring guests to Van Kleef Distillery in the Hague. This small historic genever distillery in the Hague is the last distillery remaining today. I’ll be discussing the history of this distillery, which was frequented by Vincent Van Gogh during his time in the Hague, and tips for visiting Van Kleef with my favorite drinks here.
History of Van Kleef Distillery
This charming distillery was opened in 1842 when there were quite a few distilleries in the Hague, however over time, many of these historic distilleries have unfortunately burned down during the production of jenever. Van Kleef is one of the best places to go back in time and to taste jenever in the Hague. As soon as you walk in, you’ll wonder if you’ve stepped into a time machine.
Vincent Van Gogh actually lived down the street at number 32 for four years, so you can believe that he would have frequented this cozy distillery for purchasing drinks. Van Kleef was the first page in the telephone book in the Hague in the early years of telephones. (You can view the telephone book within the museum.)
The distillery was briefly shut down in the 1980s prior to reopening in the 1990s. At this point, the production out of the historic Rijksmonument building that it sits inside of, in order to ensure its existence long-term. The interior is now a jenever museum, which can be toured (with a reservation) although you can also sit at the tables inside (if there’s space) to do a small tasting. The alcohols are still produced as close as possible to the original recipes.
Be sure to admire the
Tips for visiting Van Kleef
One of my favorite liquors from Van Kleef is Kruide Baggah. This unique herbal liquor is referred to as “shit water,” due to the fact that it was brewed with the historically less than clean water from the Hague and disguised with herbs. Basically everyone I know who has tasted it has loved it.
Whiskey lovers might really enjoy the old genever, which is available in a beautiful clay bottle. Beyond this, there is a very large collection of liquors, herbals, and genevers to try. For something very unique, try the Bride’s Tears, which is a popular wedding gift in the Netherlands.
You usually pay per sample although if you purchase an item, you might get the samples for free. (They accept credit cards.) I’m very guilty of spending a few lazy hours here with friends sipping on various drinks. The staff speaks English and Dutch with some speaking other languages. The staff is happy to recommend drinks and tell you stories/information about each drink, so don’t be afraid to be chatty!
The interior is quite small and seats are limited, so if you’re going to visit Van Kleef with a group, call ahead to make a reservation. They have tables in the garden out back and do guided tours/tastings. It’s best to come here with only a few people.
Van Kleef is always a fun stop if you have a friend who loves trying out new drinks in a new place or you’re just stopping by the Hague for a brief visit. It’s a brief walk from the Centre of the Hague! You can visit day-time prior to 6