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Iconic Brand Spotlight: NOLET’S Gin

Iconic Brand Spotlight: NOLET’S Gin

330 Years Of Family Heritage

330 Years Of Family Heritage

by Randy Mastronicola and Lincoln Salazar

For over thirty years, Carl Nolet, Jr. has played a vital role in his family’s 330-year legacy of distilling some of the world’s finest spirits. He’s currently the President & CEO of Nolet Spirits USA, and he represents the 11th generation of Nolets to join the family business.

The family owns one of the oldest distilleries in Holland, founded in 1691 in the city of Schiedam. The Nolet Distillery has been exporting spirits to the United States since the late 19th century, and remains a prominent fixture in the city’s distilling history–surviving the French Revolution and two World Wars.

The Nolet family successfully launched Ketel One Vodka in the United States in 1992. It ranks as one of the world’s top-selling brands, and has been enjoyed by vodka enthusiasts across the globe since its inception. However, another chapter has been in the offing, inspired by family patriarch Carl Nolet, Sr. Carl Jr. and his brother Bob (Executive Vice President of Nolet’s Spirits USA) created NOLET’S Finest Gins. They caught lightning in a bottle (along with some premium artisanal gin), and the heritage and tradition of the family shone through yet again. NOLET’S Gin has attained the iconic brand status as we know it today.

Cigar & Spirits Magazine recently met with Carl Nolet, Jr. to discuss the history and current state of the NOLET’S brand.

Your family has a rich history as spirits pioneers, with the distillery having been in existence for 330 years. That’s an incredible legacy.

Thank you so much. Well, first of all, it’s hard not to begin with our family legacy. It started in 1691, 330 years ago in the town of Schiedam, Holland, a small and beautiful town.

Our first generation father had a thought. “You know what? Let’s start a distillery.” That business was later handed over to his son with the hope that it would continue to pass on. I look forward to passing it on myself, and meeting up with all these prior generations in heaven. I’m generation number 11.

Ultimately, Ketel One found its way to phenomenal success from the point of pounding the pavement in New York City to now. Talk about the origins of NOLET’S Gin.

Our dad gave us the opportunity to make gin. My brother and I laughed, and I told him, “Dad, we’re Ketel guys. We’re vodka. We love vodka. We love what we’re doing, and gin is for older people. It’s that heavy juniper and all that stuff.” Dad said, “That’s exactly right, boys. That’s why I’m tasking you.” We were much younger. It took us many years before we got to it. We have a family creed: “Try not to make mistakes.”

We made mistakes. My dad told us to forget all the botanicals. Forget everything you know or think you know. Go out there and dream what you would like for that spirit to taste like, to smell like. We took a whole different approach.

One day, my wife and I were going to a charity event. She put on some perfume. It was a beautiful perfume. The smell was roses. I’m like, “Wow. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if gin could smell like this?” At the same time, my brother was back in Holland. He was doing his thing, and he’s mixing all of his normal breakfast stuff and he’s thinking, “Oh my God. If a gin could taste like this…” We put our thoughts together. Suddenly, we are here with fruit and flowers—something that’s outside the realm of normal botanicals. We have raspberries, we have peaches, we have the rose and so much more that we’re not able to share, but there’s a lot more when you taste it. You’ll figure it out.

That’s such a wonderful backstory. To be the architect of such a successful brand. We can fast forward: How do you think a NOLET’S Gin drinker finds their way to the brand today?

For us, the most important person is still the bartender. Our gin is fruit-forward, a new age wonderful gin that needs to be explained. We go out and educate about what’s inside the bottle. How we distill is so different– the maceration process, the distillation process, all the details on how we do it, with the passion, quality and care that we take in order to make our products. That’s where the bartender becomes the most influential individual.

It’s fantastic how bartenders are so important in doing that, and it’s very much the same for our NOLET’S Gin. Education is an important thing. I believe we get new consumers every single day. I get the emails, I get the texts. We see it on social media. But the bartender for me is number one. The frontline.


Kettle One Botanical

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