The Nolet Distillery in Schiedam, Holland has been producing quality spirits for ten generations. ‘The who?’ I bet your asking. The Nolet Distillery is home to Ketel One vodka, a brand that you may see in many a bar in the UK and indeed the world, but from a country that predominantly creates genever, vodka isn’t its calling card. But Ketel One must be doing something good to be well-known that a drinks giant like Diageo would pick it up to continue its success. So what made it so attractive to them?
In 1691, a gentleman named Joannes Nolet founded a distillery in Schiedam, Holland after perfecting his unique distillation method. Four generations later, 1794 saw the distillery under the control of Jacobus Nolet. His family members built the Nolet Distillery windmill, known as ‘The Whale and in 1867, the family acquired an interest in shipping and began focusing on exporting its spirits. The turn of the Century saw the Nolet family open a distillery in Maryland, USA but later withdrew from the American market during Prohibition. However in 1983 they were back in the US with the launch of Ketel One by Carolus Nolet, Sr.
With the momentum created by the popularity of Ketel One in the US, Nolet Spirits USA was founded in 1991. It was during this year that Carl Nolet, Jr. made the decision to move to the United States, dedicating himself to the growth of the company. The new Millennium saw the release of its first flavoured vodka, Ketel One Citroen, and the next year saw sales annual sales reach 1,000,000 cases even though advertising was done by word-of-mouth. 2010 saw the next flavour come into force – Ketel One Oranje.
So with success mounting off word-of-mouth, how is something like this developed?
It all begins with the selection of European wheat that, once harvested, it is ground and blended with water to form a mash, then allowed to ferment. After fermentation, the mash goes through the column distillation process. A part of the wheat spirit is re-distilled in small batch copper pot stills, including the original coal-fired Distilleerketel #1 or Pot Still Number 1. After discarding the heads and tails of the pot still distillate, the remaining hearts, including those from Pot Still Number 1, are individually filtered to create a Master Pot Still Blend. The Master Distiller oversees the marrying of a portion of the Master Pot Still Blend, a portion of the ultra wheat spirit and water to create the final product. Each final production run is approved by a member of the Nolet family.
So how does this family owned brand fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on some of the range –
Ketel One – 40%
Slight citrus aromas on the nose leading to a smooth offering of wheat with a slight sweetness following. A developing hint of spice near the end creates a long, crisp finish.
Ketel One Citroen – 40%
A nose of fresh citrus aromas with a slight sweetness following. The freshness follows onto the palate with hints of honey dicing through the sharp finish.
As mentioned, there is also an orange variant to try too, but before you do, how about enjoying one of these –
Ketel One Old Fashioned
50ml Ketel One Vodka
1 sugar cube
Few dashes of orange bitters
Garnish with orange zest
Soak the sugar cube in the orange bitters and crush. Take a measure vodka and slowly add, while stirring so the dilution happens slowly. Add a little more ice as you are adding the vodka. Once the sugar has mostly dissolved garnish with the orange zest.
You won’t find many Old Fashioned cocktails with vodka as its base ingredient, but just give this one a go, and definitely one to make at home.
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