Review: Ketel One Vodka

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Ketel One Vodka
Ketel One Vodka

Most people don’t realize how vast the category of vodka is. Vodka can be made from a wide array of things, including (but not limited to) wheat, rye, corn, grapes, and potatoes. There are as many styles of vodkas as there are source ingredients. Some vodkas look to their base ingredients for flavor while others try to construct a more neutral and clean flavor profile.

Ketel One was built from the ground up to be a crisp, clean, and neutral vodka with a focus more on the drinking experience than flavor delivery. Made in Schiedam, Netherlands, a small city about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam, Ketel One is the brainchild of the Nolets Distillery, a 10th generation family distilling company.

Ketel One is made from wheat grain, which is one of the best ingredients to create a soft, neutral spirit that has nice wide mouthfeel. The wheat grain used to make Ketel One is fermented and distilled in huge column stills, and then mixed with spirit that has been re-distilled in small coal-fired traditional copper stills. Ketel One actually gets its name from the labeling system mandated by the Dutch government for distilleries (each still has to be numbered and the oldest in the Nolets Distillery is “Distilleer Ketel 1″).

The nose on Ketel One Vodka is crisp and clean, and slightly sweet with a hint of lemon. There aren’t any fumes and the citrus smells more like lemon than lemon Pledge (which you get from a lot of vodkas). The entry is smooth, soft, and sweet with light citrus and black pepper notes. There’s the slightest bit of tingle but absolutely no burn. The finish is long and crisp with the lemon and pepper notes adding structure to a slightly dry exit.

Ketel One was designed to be enjoyed neat, over ice, or stirred with vermouth and ice for a vodka martini. One of my favorite ‘easter eggs’ in the spirits business is if you put your fingers over the “Ke” in Ketel and the “e” in One, you get Nolet.

Read our exclusive Behind The Scenes of Ketel One Vodka.