Over 300 years of expertise

When Carolus Nolet Snr first envisioned Ketel One Vodka, it was a unique, high-quality spirit for the modern palate. And with a crispness, clarity and silky softness all of its own, you could be forgiven for thinking Ketel One Vodka is purely a feat of modern liquid engineering. But at its heart is the unique combination of traditional copper pot stills and modern distilling techniques. Not to mention over 300 years of Nolet distilling expertise. Scroll down to discover the rich, fascinating history of our family, and the story of how we came to create this remarkable spirit.

1691 - Schiedam, Holland

It starts in Schiedam


Though he is in desperate need of a home and place of business, Joanness Nolet takes his time searching for the perfect distillery location. He finally settles on Schiedam, near Rotterdam, Holland. Right from the start, this is a family that refuses to let circumstance influence their standards.

1765 - The Ketel One Vodka Nolet Distillery

Nice work Joannes


Thanks to Joannes’ dedication, three generations later the Nolet business and family is still going and growing. And as the distillery expands, so does the town. With the Nolets’ help Schiedam quickly becomes a “capital of spirits.” The English start using the town’s name as the byword for quality genever, or gin.

1789 - La Revolution

La Révolution


Beginning in the summer of 1789, the first French Revolution rages for ten years, causing ripples across Europe and the world. Fortunately for lovers of fine spirits everywhere, the Nolet’s distillery survives thanks to the ingenuity and commitment the fifth generation Nolet, Jacobus.

1794 - Windmill De Walvisch or 'The Whale'

Jacobus and the whale


Jacobus and his contemporaries decide to build a windmill to process grain for the town. It’s one of the biggest of its kind, and it earns the name Windmill De Walvisch or ‘the Whale’.

1867 - Ship crossing the Atlantic to America

Nolets go global


With their spirits firmly established as one of the finest in the region, the Nolets decide to pitch for a wider audience. State-of-the-art steam technology simplifies production, and takes their products across the Atlantic to America and eventually the world.

1902 - An American Distillery

An American Distillery


Three decades later, the family decide to put down roots in America. The eighth generation Nolet, another Joannes, moves to Baltimore, Maryland, to personally oversee the construction and management of their family’s second distillery, based on the original in Schiedam.

1920 - Windmill De Walvisch

No Compromise


Just 18 years after his bold move, the Volstead Act brings in Prohibition and forces Joannes to close the distillery. Many of his contemporaries move north to Canada and allow their product to be shipped south illegally. Not Joannes – the quality of the Nolets’ spirits could never be compromised. He resolves to go home to Schiedam, back to his roots.

1939 - Europe in Turmoil

Europe in turmoil


The Second World War claimed Holland’s spirits industry as one of its many casualties. Of the 40 distilleries to restart production after the war, the Nolets’ distillery is one of only a handful to survive.

1979 - Carolus Nolet

Carolus gets the keys


As family tradition dictates, Carolus Nolet, already a 17-year veteran of the distillery is given the keys to the business and free reign over the future of the family’s legacy. And this is where our modern story begins. After reading about the Nolets’ first foray into America, Carolus decides to finish the journey his grandfather started, and takes off on an odyssey of bar research, immersing himself in US cocktail culture.

1980s - A Ketel One Vodka Cocktail

Cocktail mania


After tasting a huge variety of cocktails, Carolus realizes the vodka is imparting a similar, sharp style to all. Compelled to make something better, he returns to Schiedam – his sights set on vodka that’s great neat, on ice and perfect for cocktails. A fresh, crisp vodka with a long finish.

1983 - Copper Pot Still Distilleerketel #1

Ketel One Vodka is born


After years of experimentation, drawing on his great, great grandfather’s tasting notes, Carolus discovers the perfect recipe. Combining modern column distillation with the unique liquid produced by copper pot stills he created Ketel One Vodka. He names it after the oldest, coal-fired copper pot still used at the distillery – Distilleerketel #1 – an image of which still graces the label of every one of our bottles.

1984 - The American Skyline

The come-back king


Carolus personally revisits the bartenders who inspired him, travelling across California equipped with the newly created Ketel One Vodka. Based purely on taste and word-of-mouth, the new liquid gradually establishes itself as the vodka of choice in many of America’s finest bars. Our dream of breaking into the US market is finally realized, and Carolus’ sons Carl Jr. and Bob join their father in expanding the business.

2000 - Ketel One Citroen Flavoured Vodka Logo

The citroen


Listening once again to our extended family – the bartenders of the world – we draw on generations of distilling expertise to create yet another fantastic addition to the list of cocktail spirits. Years of experimentation later sees the launch of Ketel One Citroen flavoured vodka, made with natural oils from the best lemons and limes from around the world, using the classic Ketel One Vodka as its base.

2002 - A case of Ketel One Vodka

A million reasons to celebrate


Annual sales of Ketel One Vodka reach the one million case mark, thanks purely to word of mouth and our relationship with the bartending community. An amazing milestone, especially considering we’ve never advertised. At least, not until…

2003 - The 'Dear Ketel One Drinker' Ad Campaign

'Dear ketel one drinker'


With a voice as distinctive as the vodka, the "Dear Ketel One Drinker" ad campaign launches in the U.S. Our first ever foray into the world of advertising is all about thanking vodka drinkers for spreading the word of Ketel One Vodka.

The Oranje


The result of more expert feedback, Ketel One Oranje flavoured vodka also takes years to perfect – harnessing the essences of Valencia and Mandarin oranges, slowly infused with Ketel One Vodka over 24 hours. 

2014 - The Nolet Family

The expert's favourite


We still taste every production run before bottling; detecting changes and qualities a computer cannot distinguish. And a good job too, because Ketel One Vodka was voted the ‘Best Selling Vodka’ and ‘Most Trending Vodka’ of 2015 in the latest ‘The World’s 50 Best Bars Brand Report’, by Drinks International.


Distilled in a copper ketel for the smoothest possible finish



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