Installed since its creation on the outskirts of La Houlle, in the heart of the Audomarois marshes, the Persyn distillery has been working for more than 200 years to make a local taste treasure: Houlle genever.

With a unique history, the Persyn distillery has been able to restore the genever to its former glory. From the popular "café-goutte" alcohol, known regionally as "bistoule", this alcohol has become a brandy of choice enjoyed as an aperitif, digestive or sorbet. The distillery can even pride itself on multiplying medals and world podiums for its refined gins and genevers! It is also the oldest grain distillery in France!

Bearing the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label, the Houlle juniper factory can be visited by reservation every day of the week except Sundays and public holidays.

History of jenever

Let's go back briefly to the history of this northern alcohol. Jenever was probably invented in the XNUMXth century, but its name was only mentioned for the first time in the XNUMXth century by a Dutch doctor, Franciscus de Le Boë. At the time, juniper was a pharmaceutical remedy before very quickly becoming a flavored grain brandy that was very popular in North-West Europe. Widely consumed in the Netherlands, this alcohol, then nicknamed 'courage of the Dutch', will indeed be known throughout Western Europe through Batavian sailors. It began to be produced in many European countries, including England, which discovered the recipe for gin in this way. Yes, juniper is indeed the ancestor of this so British alcohol!

In France, on the other hand, juniper is not popular. Indeed, King Louis XIV, taking a dim view of alcohols competing with drinks from the vines, decided to ban their manufacture and sale in 1713.

It was not until the French Revolution that the jenever trade experienced a certain boom and distilleries sprouted like mushrooms in the region. It was not then a question of industries strictly speaking, but rather of micro-distilleries installed on farms. This activity made it possible to use unsold cereal grains during the winter. The draff from the distillation process was used to feed livestock or enrich the soil in early spring.

Houlle genever and Persyn distillery logo

History of the Houlle distillery

Here, in brief, is the turbulent history of Houlle genever and its successive bosses.

Decocq era

It was in the post-revolutionary movement that the Houlle distillery was created in 1812 by the Decocq family. It was located on the banks of the Houlle River and the Audomarois marsh because of various amenities: the navigability of the Houlle joining the Aa and its canal allowing the transport of coal, pure water from springs, the presence of crops cereals in the sector…

Lafoscade era

During its history, the distillery made its merry way, but was damaged by a fire in 1885. It is in these circumstances that the company was sold to its new owner, Paul Lafoscade. The latter, faced with increasingly fierce competition, decided not to engage in the price war and focused on quality. Already at the end of the XNUMXth century, Houlle genever was winning medals!

 During the First World War, the distillery had to go through an unprecedented crisis. The conflict brought its share of harmful consequences for the genever of Houlle: drop in consumption, pre-emption of grains to feed the population, requisition for the Germans... After the war, production was subject to quotas and limited to local consumption. . Many distilleries disappear. Despite these difficulties, that of Houlle emerged stronger.

In 1927, the distillery moved and moved to 200 meters from its original location sold to the water company. She won't move there.

Persyn era

Later, the Second World War forced Paul Lafoscade junior to follow the exodus to Paris. Following these inconveniences, the distillery was sold to the Persyn family in 1942. Jean-Marie Persyn will arrive at the controls of the Houlle genever, who will once again have to deal with the classic concerns linked to the war and the post-war period, in particular a new quota due to grain shortage. He will then pursue the strategy of the Lafoscade family by betting on tradition and quality. It will also launch the ranges of aged genevers “golden card” and “black card”.

On the strength of these products, the juniper will continue to establish itself as the region's gastronomic flagship and will be passed down from generation to generation, from Jean-Marie Persyn to Hugues and Jean Noel Persyn. In 2014, Lionel Persyn, son of Hugues, took over the management of the family distillery.

An award-winning jenever and gin

On February 15, 2018, Houle's genever was awarded at the World Gin Awards in London with the title of "World's best Genever". Recently, on February 25, 2021, the Genever for Long Drink won a new title of "World's best Genever".

Visit of the Houlle distillery

With the Persyn distillery, visit the oldest working grain distillery in France!

All year round, the Houlle distillery shares its manufacturing secrets with its visitors. The guided tour includes watching a film on the history of the distillery, visiting the facilities and a tasting session… In moderation!

For all information and to book your visit:

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