A SHARED PASSION FOR VODKA
11th Generation Distiller, Bob Nolet, talks vodka and bartenders.
KETEL ONE™ vodka is now served in over 75 countries across the world and in some of the best bars on the planet.
Whether people are drinking it on the rocks or serving it in their preferred cocktails, the proof seems to be in the pudding, as Ketel One Vodka has been awarded by ‘The World’s 50 Best Bars Brand Report’ from Drinks International year after year.
At the heart of Ketel One lies a Dutch family’s remarkable passion for fine spirits.
Bob Nolet, represents the 11th generation of this great distilling family.
We caught up with him recently on all things Ketel One. We’ve “distilled” his amazing story in a short article and here he explains why he thinks this world renowned spirit is so successful.
First up, if a bartender was to ask you ‘what do I need to know about Ketel One’ what would you tell them?
My father, the 10th generation, created Ketel One Vodka to be drunk whatever way you fancied it; whether that was neat, on ice or as the perfect ingredient in your cocktails. We do always say it’s the canvas for bartenders and consumers to make great drinks with.
If you want to get your head around this spirit and what it can bring to your menu you first need to familiarise yourself with the four F’s. These help define what makes Ketel One Vodka unique:
Fragrance - nosing the aroma; you’ll immediately detect freshness with hints of citrus and honey.
Flavour - savour the crisp, lively tingle.
Feel - let the signature silky softness coat your tongue.
Finish - a long finish with subtle flavours reminds you of its quality.
What, for you, is the greatest quality of Ketel One?
The taste! For me it is about the exceptional liquid and how we have been able to create a vodka that gives you freshness on the nose, a full mouth feel and long finish, while leaving you with a lively tingle.
It is this that makes Ketel One the perfect base for cocktails and for bartenders around the world to create unforgettable experiences for their customers.
Ketel One is really popular with bartenders and you’ve invested a lot of your time with them over the years - getting inspiration and feedback. Why has that been so important to you?
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I really enjoy spending time with bartenders and seeing the great drinks they create with our vodka. My own inspiration comes from appreciating what bartenders do with the liquid we produce, that’s what keeps me motivated to do what we do. They really surprise me with the different ingredients they use and ultimately challenge my thinking. How and why we distil and blend Ketel One in all the different ways is as a result of these inspiring moments.
Secondly bartenders are our link to the consumer, telling our story and helping them to appreciate the superb quality of Ketel One. Without the bartenders as the consumers voice, how could we know what the public thing about our drink. Yes, we could invest lots of money into reports and intel but at the end of the day there is no richer content than the feedback we get from the ground; from the people drinking our spirit and from those who are loyal to use over the years. We strive to make a drink that works for each and every one of them.
Cocktails are massively on the increase in certain markets, where do you see it going? And what do you think the new trends to watch for are?
Yes, the interest in cocktails has sky-rocketed. And it’s not just in a few countries, but globally – I see that in my travels around the world.
I find it really encouraging that more and more bartenders are opening up their own bars and putting a focus on the great cocktail experience. We believe we make the best vodka possible and as a distiller we look to bartenders to create something really special with it – it is the bartending community which drives new trends by inventing imaginative serves.
They are part of our success and we share your innovative spirit.
Has the growing interest in gins affected vodka consumption?
In my opinion the rise of gin has not harmed the vodka category, but helped it by bringing more awareness of white spirits. This has just raised the conversation about the quality of the liquid and this is something we hold dear.
Bartenders are continually telling us how popular vodka is in their bars and how it forms the base to many of their most popular cocktail serves. There is nowhere on this earth that you will go that won’t have a vodka based cocktail on the menu and for me that’s enough to show consumption is still pretty strong.
You’ve obviously met a lot of bartenders in your time. What are the key characteristics of a great bartender?
For me the key characteristic is that they are happy to see you walk into the bar - a true people’s person. They really need to own the room, the menu and the cocktails they serve. A confident bartender goes a long way and if you as a customer feel that confidence from them, you are more inclined to explore with your drink choice and really have a true taste adventure.
Many bartenders over the years have told us that they explain cocktails to their customers through ‘fancy tasting note’ cues but the ones that resonate best are those that you and I relate to e.g. it tastes like strawberries or popcorn or even honeycomb. Once a bartender breaks through these perception barriers they really do get the customer to open themselves up to your brand and what it can offer them.
And finally, do you have favourite signature serve for Ketel One Vodka?
I really love the Tomatini! It was a serve created by World Class bartender Jimmy Barret and was a take on the Bloody Mary.
Using tomatoes, he created a very new and exciting drink. I believe that this is where you need to find inspiration.
Look around you at what is being done and see how you can create something new by harnessing old recipes and techniques.
Bob Nolet is known around the world for his ancestral links to Ketel One Vodka. This insider knowledge and his passion to progress, have seen him help the brand grow from strength to strength. To keep up with all the latest from Ketel One follow at: www.facebook.com/ketelone and @KetelOne
KETEL ONE is a trademark of Double Eagle Brands B.V.