The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 61 of 116

COVER STORY The sleek glass exterior of the modern Nolet Spirits USA headquarters in Aliso Viejo, California gives no indication that it represents 319 years of a Dutch fam- ily’s distilling history. Nor that, in rococo contrast to the crisp architecture, the interior is accented with antique embel- lishments of centuries past. Indeed, ancient spirits are literally seen along the halls of the Nolet offices, for on the walls are framed antique labels from the family’s ten generations of distilling, all of which culminated in 1983 with Ketel One, named after the Holland distillery’s original copper pot still, Distilleerketel #1, and which has subsequently become one of the most called-for vodkas in America. And now, conceived by the Nolet family’s tenth and eleventh generations—Carl Sr. and his two sons, Carl, Jr. and his younger brother Bob—a new spirit is about to reinvigorate a sleeping giant of a category with a product so innovative it doesn’t accurately fit any existing definition. This rich, complex, 80-proof elixir is HARLEM Kruiden Liqueur. The name was not inspired by the celebrated New York neighborhood, however, but instead chosen to honor the historic Dutch city of Haarlem, birthplace of Nolet Jr.’s grand- mother. (Like Harlem, New York, also named after the Dutch city, the liqueur’s name has been Americanized by omitting an a.) And while “kruiden” in Dutch means “herbs,” HARLEM is unlike any other herbal liqueur, with none of the cloying medicinal overtones normally associated with this category. Served ice cold, it pours with a rich, reddish-black texture of molten silk. Its ingredients are a Nolet family secret, but when I first sampled this intoxicating potion (brought to me encased in dry ice!), I detected orange, licorice, black cherry, citrus, chocolate- mocha and a hint of cedar. Later, Carl Nolet Jr., Executive Vice President of Nolet Spirits USA, told me his father said I was “very close to being right on,” although I strongly suspect there is no cedar in the recipe. Nonetheless, HARLEM is one of the most complex drinks I have ever tasted, and I consider it to be the world’s best tasting shot. Consequently, I was not surprised when THE TASTING PANEL awarded it a well-deserved 100 points (out of a maximum of 100). It challenges the mixologist’s april 2010 / the tasting panel / 61 Nice shot! HARLEM Kruiden Liqueur. PHOTO: STACEY TAXIN

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - April 2010