Nolet Distillery’s line of “Ketel 1” spirits refer to the coal fired still on which they are produced. “Ketel 1” is perhaps most familiar as a vodka brand, the Ketel 1 Graanjenever is distilled on that coal-fired still— and therefore bears the name.
Ketel 1 Graanjenever is of the jonge style, which means little to no maltwine is added back. It means a lighter flavor and color. The base is a blend of four grains, distilled with 14 different botanicals.
Aroma: Gently toasted pie pastry suggests a myriad of grain. A hint of yeasty fresh bread and only the faintest intimations of botanicals. Like many good genevers, Ketel 1 Graanjenever is grain forward.
Flavor: Light— quite light— in flavor. Smooth, gently silky texture. Hint of aniseed, gentle spice mid-palate. Bready, fresh dough notes late on the palate. There’s only the faintest ghost of juniper here, seemingly melded with a stack of other whispering botanicals.
Finish: Fresh bread, a hint of red winter wheat creaminess, all within a glow of dried quince.
I don’t often mix with my genever. The best genevers I enjoy sipped neat.
Nolet provides several mixing recommendations for the intrepid genever drinker. Many of them are riffs on classics with genever in place of another base spirit. Ketel 1 Graanjenever is a bit too subtle for a Manhattan or Negroni. I suggest pairing it with citrus. Their recommendation of a genever and lemonade is intriguing, though I think a Death in the Gulfstream or an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail better showcases the subtle botanicals and grain-forward profile of this spirit.
Overall, Ketel 1 Graanjenever
Ketel 1 Graanjenever is a perfectly well executed jonge style genever. The grain notes are the star, but the botanicals add texture and character.
If you’re a fan of lighter styles of genever, Ketel 1 Graanjenever is worth checking out. It’s no surprise why it’s became one of the best selling genevers in the Netherlands. It’s one of the most accessible entry points to the the category or new genever drinkers and it’s a satisfying, easy-to-enjoy spirit for those who aren’t new.
Recommended in its category.