Their billboard in the Grote Markt is just as familiar a sight as the Martinitoren. Founded in 1888 and probably most associated with their jenever, the family distillery from Groningen has a long tradition of adapting, exploring and redefining flavor. Their current mission: reclaiming the position of jenever on a global scale.
Hooghoudt may have a long history, steeped in tradition, but the company is far from conservative. As Marketing Manager Niels Grootenboer puts it: “Each generation of owners reinvented the company, and that’s a good thing. It’s about adapting to changing circumstances and changing taste, and going the extra mile to give people real quality. It’s one thing to say it, it’s another to actually make an effort to actually do it. Walk the talk”, he adds with a smile.
From orange peels to the war and vodka
In 1888, Grietje and Hero Jan Hooghoudt started their distillery, producing different kinds of liqueur made out of fruit peels. When Hero Jan died, his wife Grietje continued to run the company, receiving numerous awards for quality and taste. In 1920, she also started distilling jenever, the drink the company is still famous for today. Fun fact: jenever is actually the predecessor of gin.
In the spirit of letting nothing go to waste, son Ludolf used the leftover orange peels to make a cordial, called Valencia and that turned into a very popular drink. During the Second World War, when supplies were scarce, Hooghoudt distilled brandy and after the war, in the Sixties, recognizing the change in taste, introduced double grain jenever. Along with being the first distiller to launch a TV commercial, the drink became an instant classic. And during the Eighties, celebrating a century of success, growth and a street named after them, Hooghoudt Distillery launched an international brand of vodka, called Royalty.