Dutch vodka maker beckons Indian bartenders

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) If you are a bartender in a swish hotel in Delhi or Mumbai and have the yen for concocting the ultimate cocktail, the Ketel One Ritual could fetch you an all-expenses paid trip to Holland’s Nolet Distillery where the ultra-premium vodka is still distilled in the manner it was 300 years ago.

Two winners each from Delhi and Mumbai will join their counterparts from eight other cities – including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Paris, Sao Paulo and Peurto Rico – for the visit in September to Schiedam, where the 10th generation Carolus Nolet tastes and approves every single batch of Ketel One to ensure that it is worthy to bear the family name.

‘The competition is not about a great recipe. It’s about a great vodka experience,’ Jeo Milner, Ketel One’s regional brand ambassador (Asia Pacific), told IANS.

‘The cocktail’s got to be innovative and creative, so that drinking it becomes a ritual. That’s why we call the competition a ritual,’ Milner, who was in India to conduct workshops for bartenders of top-of-the-line hotels in Mumbai and Delhi, said.

‘We had a workshop for about 50 of the most influential bartenders and managers in Mumbai (earlier this week) and a similar number in Delhi (on Tuesday) to explain to them what the competition is all about,’ Milner, an Australain based in Hong Kong, said.

‘Intending participants will have to send me a video of the cocktail being crafted which we’ll judge from various parametres before picking the winners.’ The competition closes July 23.

The Ketel One brand – Rs.3,200 for a 750 ml bottle – has been in India for a little over a year and Milner said the competition was not a one-off affair. The company, he added, was in this country for the long haul.

‘For discerning bartenders and consumers alike, Ketel One is quite simply the real deal – unpretentious in nature, unique and full of taste. I am looking forward to mentor the Indian trade community on the 300 year old family heritage, safely guarded craft and exquisite taste that sets Ketel One vodka into a class of its own,’ he said.

‘India is a fast-growing market for us and we are focusing on it, hoping to move away young professionals and others from traditional drinks to vodka,’ Milner explained, adding that the company was currently focusing on Delhi and Mumbai and could also move to cities like Bangalore.

Crisp and rewarding, Ketel One is beautifully and slowly handcrafted by the master distiller in traditional copper pot stills and named after the original, Distilleerketel#1, which is still in use today.

Each copper pot still has a capacity of 3,200 litres and each one is charged to just 2,500 litres for each run with diluted ultra wheat spirit. The resulting roughly 1,400 litre hearts of each distillate contribute to the Master Pot Still Batch created by the master distiller.

‘Although this is a time consuming and costly process, it enables the master distiller to have total control, ensuring consistent, ultra-premium quality,’ Milner explained.

The Ketel One story began in 1691, when Joannes Nolet opened the family distillery in Schiedam, a location which would later become the world’s capital of spirits.

While invasion, unrest, revolution, revolts and wars forced closure for the majority, the Nolet’s passion, innovation and determination ensured the distillery’s survival.

In 1992, Carolus Nolet, having sole access to his great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s secret journal (notice how many greats it takes to make a great vodka!), revived and reworked the original recipes and techniques of his ancestors to create the distinctive personality of Ketel One.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

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