In the 17th century, when the VOC ships brought herbs, spices and sugar to Amsterdam, distillers started distilling liqueurs on a large scale. The reason that the Amsterdam liqueur industry was becoming so important was that the city had become very prosperous and that liqueur, contrary to beer and genever, was an expensive drink which only the rich could afford to drink on a regular basis.
When in 1724 Wynand Fockink acquired the distillery and the bar in the Pijlsteeg dating back to 1679, Amsterdam was still a rich and prosperous city with a thriving liqueur industry. In 1778 Wynand Fockink died and left the company to his single surviving heir, his daughter Maria. After her father’s death Maria continued the distillery together with distiller Dentzel. Business was flourishing and through Maria’s granddaughters it came in the hands of the Schmitz family. Until the takeover by Lucas Bols in 1954, the company was managed by descendants of Wynand Fockink. Under Wynand Fockink and his descendants, the liqueur distillery became one of the largest Dutch distilleries. By the end of the 18th century the company owned six large premises on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal and another six in the Pijlsteeg.
In the first decade of the 19th century the company expanded through export as well. By that time, Wynand Fockink owned trading houses in Berlin, Vienna, Brussels and Paris. Between 1815 and 1860, France was one of the largest liqueur customers. In those days a passage was constructed between the Damstraat and the Pijlsteeg in order to increase the visibility of the current Wynand Fockink proeflokaal.
Around 1870 Wynand Fockink had 80 employees, operated five stills and used a steam engine of 30 horsepower. In the same era export to the USA started to grow and in 1920 Wynand Fockink turned into a publicly owned company, until that year it had always been a family owned company.
After the 2nd World War, Wynand Fockink had an increasingly difficult time. In 1954 it was acquired by its biggest competitor Lucas Bols. At the time production was transferred to the Bols factory on the Rozengracht maintaining the products’ quality and ensuring that no clientele was lost. Also the Proeflokaal (tasting tavern) and the liquor store retained their staff and remained operational. Later, the tasting tavern and store were exploited by a third party.
By the end of 2013, the distillery was renovated and expanded with two large copper stills and continued under the name Lucas Bols Distilleerderij. As before, Wynand Fockink liqueurs and genevers are made using the traditional craft method while at the same time also the heart of the Amsterdam Bols Genever and various distillates for Bols liqueurs and Damrak Gin are made here.
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