Last week I attended a vodka master class at Lutyens, an exclusive and rather glamorous private members club on Fleet Street. The evening was crafted around an essential Martini ingredient- Ketel One vodka. Less commercial than other vodka brands it is a recognized and respected label within the drinks industry- and a firm favourite with bar tenders.
The Ketel One ambassador Justin Smyth explained the unique properties of the drink before talking me through a tasting session which involved sampling Ketel and a few of competitors. I was surprised to learn it originates not from Russia but Holland and is made from wheat. Created by the Nolet family in 1691 the family`s passion for their craft survived invasion, revolution and turmoil so that in 1993 the seventh generation Nolet – Carolus was able to access his ancestor`s secret journal and revive then rework the original recipe. At the Dutch headquarters the drink is still distilled in vast copper pots, heated over a hand-stoked fire whilst alcohol levels are regulated to ensure the best possible taste. There is even a member of the Nolet family on hand to taste each batch before it is packaged up and released; it`s a complicated and controlled business.
Lining four glasses in front of me on the bar I proceeded with the tasting following the four f` rule:
Fragrance, flavour, feel and finish.
The process involved holding a glass to my nose, allowing its perfume to filter up before first sipping the spirit, letting it sit on the tongue and finally slipping down the back of the neck. The Ketel One vodka most definitely had a smoother and fuller bodied flavour than its companions and left a clean crisp taste in the mouth. It became apparent it was a far superior drink than the high street alternatives – so much so I`m now a vodka snob and a Ketel one convert.
Lutyens charming and knowledgeable head bar man Julian de Nechaud de Feral created a beautiful classic martini for me using the simplest of ingredients: chilled ketel one vodka, the finest olives and an ice-cold glass. It had quite a kick but certainly easy enough to put away- very 007. And no city night is of course complete without a cosmopolitan, which was created using the Ketel One Citron vodka. This is their original spirit infused with lemons from Sicily, West Africa and lime all the way from the Caribbean! These people take their citrus fruit VERY seriously. Pale pink in colour, finished with the famous burnt orange and served in an elegant Martini glass it was decadence in a drink. Julian also provided me with the history behind these drinks, according to cocktail legend Madonna Is reputed to have chosen the cosmo as her signature drink way before Carrie Bradshaw and Sex In the city. Of course what is good enough for the Material girl is good enough for a Lussorian writer!
Ketel One has also teamed up with a cookery school L`atelier des Chefs in W1, combining a similar vodka master class experience with a pan Asian cooking lesson. The idea is to marry the glamour and taste sensation of a Ketel One vodka with the freshest and finest fast eastern cuisine.
If you have a chance to attend there is on the 2nd of October details of which can be found at: www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk
Keep any eye for this vodka brand, it`s great quality, doesn`t compromise to be commercial and is to be found moving and shaking in some interesting places over the UK.
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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