Genever (Geneva) - WWII Era Bottle

It is difficult to date a bottle of Geneva (Genever) as the labels did not change much during the years. It was a surprisingly old-fashioned industry compared to the Scottish & French spirits industry. But based on the UK maximum price stated on the label, the bottle was produced after the government had introduced a luxury tax in 1940. As the price for a bottle of Martell VS Cognac was about 19 shilling (0.95 pound) in 1948, the bottle was most likely imported just after WWII when the alcohol tax was still 100%, it reverted back to 33% in 1948. The state-ordered maximum price was most likely abolished after the conservatives took over from the Labour in 1951.

But this is a bit speculative and if anyone on here has something to add to this reasoning, I would be very interested :)

“Key” was the biggest of Blankeheym & Nolet’s export brands. The firm used to be a big independent exporter but got bought over by Bols in the 60s/70s when the industry when through a highly competitive phase. Bols still produces the brand but as with most old Dutch Genever brands, the original distillery isn’t in production anymore (nor has it been for a long time).

Most export brands & labels refer to a certain item or animal, as they became big in a time when most consumers in the world were illiterate. Hence a well-recognizable symbol was very valuable.

If my theory is correct and the bottle pictured above was produced just after WWII, then I don’t think the quality will be very exceptional: due to grain shortages the Dutch distillers started using more and more ‘neutral’ alcohol in their products. This resulted in a new style, known as the ‘new’ or young-style of genever.

Old genever does not appear at auction very often and, because of this, it sells reasonably well for such a ‘minor’ spirit category. I would expect this bottle to sell for somewhere in between 50 to 125 euros.

Hope this was helpful,


Image posted by a guest

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Vale: If the quality was lower after WWII, is the value of the bottle less than one bottled a bit later?
  • easmits:

    Hi Vale, thank you for your question. I think it would apply for spirits categories like Whisky or Cognac, which have a big amount of collectors that look for the best bottles they can find. As there aren’t many collectors for Jenever, this means that the value is more or less the same.

  • Vale: I see, thanks!

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