Nobody associates vodka with the Netherlands—if you put “booze” and “Holland” in the same sentence at all, you’re probably talking about juniper heavy genever. But about 50 miles south of Amsterdam sits the small city of Schiedam (pop 76,650) and its famed windmills, canals and its 325-year-old Nolet Distillery, which, in addition to producing noteworthy gin, makes one of the world’s best selling vodkas in Ketel One.
The distillery’s story began in 1691, when Joannes Nolet produced batches of jenever, which would lead to centuries and generations of father-to-son ownership and the spawn of both a high-end gin and an iconic vodka. Traditional old-world masonry makes up the skeleton of the old family headquarters dressed in dark wood walls, peppered with historical artifacts (although we couldn’t find any of the secret recipes). In line with the traditional Dutch windmills, about ten years ago, the Nolets built a handsome, 16-story windmill to generate green electricity for power. The big showpiece though, is the still-in-use, brick-lined, coal fired pot still, “Distilleerketel #1” that is pictured on every vodka bottle’s label.
On May 19th the distillery was given the designation of ‘Royal' by the Dutch King as it is one of the oldest family businesses in the Netherlands. While the Nolet is still creating jenever, ever since its introduction in 1983 Ketel One Vodka has continued to maintain a strong customer loyalty.