The right flavored vodka can make or break your favorite cocktail. Flavored vodkas have been around for years and for good reason. The unique flavors can add a deeper dimension to your drinks and help you create new, delicious flavors.
While there are many flavored options out there, citrus options are another story. Among the top citrus vodka brands, you will find the two major options are Absolut’s Mandarin vodka and Ketel One’s Citroen vodka.
We are going to put these two vodkas to the test to see what makes them unique. Hopefully, by the end, you will have a better idea of what is available.
Absolut Mandarin Vodka or Ketel One Citroen Vodka?
Among the best citrus vodka brands are Absolut and Ketel One. Both brands make flavored vodka options with a wide array of flavor profiles, both fruit-based and botanical.
Absolut is a Swedish brand of vodka that was established in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith. It is based in Åhus, Sweden. The brand established itself in the Åhus area and has since kept close to its roots. The brand focuses on keeping everything local within its community.
In their effort to keep to a “One Source” belief, the brand sources their winter wheat from local farms, and the water used in the vodka production is sourced from a local well. Absolut believes in keeping with tradition with many of the farms having worked with the brand for generations.
The founder, Joanness Nolet, spent time looking for the ideal location to establish a distillery. He settled in the Schiedam area of the Netherlands near Rotterdam, Holland.
The brand continued to expand, eventually establishing a distillery in Baltimore, Maryland in 1902. In 1939 during World War 2, the Schiedam distillery was among the very few that survived. In 1984, Carolus Nolet (a descendant of Smith) went back to the United States has perfected the Ketel One vodka recipe.
Since then, the consumption of this vodka has continued to grow with the brand becoming a popular choice in the States.
How Are They Made?
Winter wheat is ground and blended with water to produce ‘mash’ to produce both brands’ vodka.
Ketel One uses column distillation to produce a fresh and lively ultra-wheat spirit. Once this step is completed, Ketel One then re-distills the spirit in copper pot stills that originate from the 19th century. This distillation step takes 8 hours, leaving only the ‘hearts’ of the spirit.
The heart of each distillate is then filtered and blended to create a “Master Pot Still Batch”. Portions of the masterbatch, the ultra-wheat spirit, and water are blended to create the final vodka recipe.
In comparison, Absolut uses continuous distillation that distills the vodka an infinite number of times. This ensures that it is beyond pure once it is bottled and free of any impurities that might affect the taste.
The water used in the production of Absolut vodka is sourced from a deep well in Åhus. The water is protected from impurities in this well, making it ideal for creating a clean and tasty vodka. Absolut follows a similar process to make their vodka, with slight differences due to the brand’s history of vodka making.
The unique flavors of each vodka can be added either at the end of the process before it is bottled or during the distillation process.
What Are They Made of?
Absolut uses winter wheat which is local to the area around Åhus in Southern Sweden. The fields there are fertile, making it ideal for growing copious amounts of winter wheat. Absolut makes sustainable production a priority ensuring that the farms they obtain their wheat from use of sustainable farming techniques.
Ketel One uses 100% GMO-free wheat that is sourced from across Europe. They use only the finest wheat to ensure quality taste, batch after batch. Naturally purified water is used in the production of their vodka ensuring it is free of impurities.
How Are They Similar?
Both Absolut and Ketel One vodka are made using winter wheat with both flavored variations making use of fresh citrus juice for the flavoring. The vodka options have the same alcohol content at similar prices, making them ideal to compare.
This is where the similarities end. Absolut offers more flavored vodkas than Ketel One and uses a multi-column distillation process as opposed to the copper pot still distillation. Ketel One has an ultra-smooth finish while Absolut’s is a bit harsher, showing the difference in the price point and quality of the vodka.
Direct Comparison of Absolut’s Mandarin Vodka and Ketel One’s Citroen Vodka
|Item||Absolut Mandarin Vodka||Ketel One Citroen Vodka|
|Raw Materials||Water, winter wheat, citrus flavoring, mandarin, and orange juice||Water, wheat, 2 types of citrus lemons, and two types of limes|
|Alcohol by Volume (ABV)||40%||40%|
|Taste||Notes of oranges and tangerine. Slight sweetness||Honey-like sweetness, hints of fresh lemon|
|Average Price (1 Liter)||$21||$28|
Absolut Mandarin and Ketel One Citroen are comparable flavors given their similar alcohol content and flavor profiles.
Other Absolut Vodka Flavors
|Item||Size per bottle||Price|
|Absolut Vodka (Original)||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Raspberri Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Vanilla Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Citron Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Grapefruit||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Apeach||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Mango||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Watermelon Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Pears Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Peppar Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Lime Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Passionfruit Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Elyx Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Ruby Red Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Cherry Vodka||750 ml||$16|
|Absolut Kurant||750 ml||$16|
The additional citrus flavors among Absolut’s offerings are Citron, Grapefruit, and Lime vodkas. Along with this, Absolut offers eleven other flavors that fall out of the citrus category.
Other Ketel One Vodka Flavors
|Item||Size per bottle||Price|
|Ketel One Vodka||750 ml||$21|
|Ketel One Oranje||750 ml||$21|
|Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit and Rose||750 ml||$21|
|Ketel One 325th Nolet Anniversary||750 ml||$33|
|Ketel One Botanical Cucumber and Mint||750 ml||$21|
|Ketel One Botanical Peach and Orange Blossom||750 ml||$21|
The additional citrus flavors among Ketel One’s offerings are the Oranje and Botanical Grapefruit & Rose vodkas. Beyond their original recipe and citrus variations, Ketel One has two more flavors of botanical vodka infusions.
How to Drink Ketel One Citroen Vodka and Absolut Mandarin Vodka
Ketel One has a recipe for a Citroen Fizz that is an ideal option for a refreshing and delicious drink. First, fill a Collins glass with ice. add 1.5 ounces of Ketel One Citroen flavored vodka, 0.75 ounces of fresh lemon juice, and 0,5 ounces of simple syrup. Top it up with club soda and garnish with a lemon wheel.
Absolut’s Mandarin Punch is ideal for a summer party or evening drink. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add 1,5 parts Absolut Mandarin, 1,5 parts pineapple juice, and 2,5 parts ginger ale to the glass. Stir to combine the ingredients and garnish with a lime wedge and lemon wedge.
Citrus Vodka Brands – Alternatives
Smirnoff Lime uses the original recipe with an infusion of lime flavoring. The vodka is gluten-free and kosher and can be used to make a delicious mixer or as the base for a cocktail.
It has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 37,5% (75 proof) and is priced at $12 per 750ml bottle.
Belvedere Lemon and Basil Vodka have distinct flavors of fresh green basil and organic lemons. In the vodka, there are additional notes of elderflower botanicals.
Grey Goose Le Citron is a lemon-flavored vodka that is made with essential oils from lemons originating in the Menton region of France. It has a bright and clean flavor with a warm finish.
The vodka has an ABV of 40% (80 proof) and is priced at $25 per 750ml bottle.
Cîroc Summer Citrus Vodka is an ideal option for a summer drink. It has notes of blood orange and freshly squeezed citrus with hints of lime-zest. This vodka has an ABV of 37,5% (75 proof) and is priced at $35 per 750ml bottle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which came first?
Ketel One was established in 1691 while Absolut began operating in 1879 making Ketel One older.
Which is stronger?
Both the Absolut mandarin vodka and the Ketel One Citroen vodka have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40% (80 proof) making neither stronger than the other.
Which is the most popular?
According to sales data, the Absolut brand is more popular than Ketel One. Drink preferences are subjective though, so the most popular depends on the person.