Nolet Family Distillery, maker of Ketel One Vodka, celebrated its 325th birthday in May. Bartenders, bar owners and liquor industry influencers from all over the world gathered in Schiedam, Netherlands, for a blowout three-day party.
If your invitation got lost in the mail, fear not. The doors of Nolet are always open to visitors wanting to explore how the introduction of this smooth vodka to the American market in 1983 led to the craft cocktail movement.
With tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, a look inside is a trip back in time to 1691 when the coal-fired copper pot still No. 1, for which the brand is named, started its life's work. (Also made here are Ketel 1 Jenever and Nolet's Gin.) Here's to vodka tourism.
It is not uncommon to see Carolus Nolet Sr., 10th generation master distiller and Ketel One creator, with sons Bob and Carl Jr. on site at the family business.
After visiting the reception area inside the De Nolet tower mill, the tallest windmill in the world, watch a video exploring the family history before taking a peek into the museum and former board offices. Then head to the distillery, to see the first pot still and the distillation process, before moving on to the modern technology of the bottling plant.
Each finished product is tasted and approved by a member of the Nolet family before bottling. "It's a canvas on which to make art," Carl Nolet Jr. said. "Now, the culinary world is entering our bartending world. Our next generation, the millennials, are traveling. They're going to expect better-tasting drinks."
To commemorate your visit, don't leave without a 325th anniversary bottle. Dressed in a copper matte plating with a design representing the ironwork above the door to the distillery, decorated with coins, the bottle symbolizes generations of the Nolet family and, for the first time, bears the signatures of Bob and Carl Jr.