Vodka isn’t aged like your Scotch or Bourbons are so it tends to offer less flavor, making it difficult to decide between vodka options. Despite it being more bland, there is certainly a flavor distinction between high-quality vodka’s and the cheaper bottom shelf options. Additionally, there are a lot of options on the market including wheat, corn, potato, rice, soybeans and so on.
Two of the most popular vodka brands are Tito’s and Ketel One. Both of these brands come in at relatively similar price points and are considered ‘mid-tier’ vodka’s. So the next time you’re at the store and you see Tito’s next to Ketel One, which one should you buy?
This article is going to compare Tito’s vs. Ketel One from a distillation, price, taste, and flavor perspective and provide opinions on which is better for mixing and which is better for sipping on the rocks.
How Tito’s is Made
While Tito’s distilling process is a tight-kept company secret, it is a corn-based vodka. The corn mash is distilled six times to reach 80 proof, or a 40% ABV. Tito’s, like all plain vodka, is gluten free as well.
Tito’s was initially distilled using a pot-still instead of column-stills. Pot stilling vodka is uncommon as it is a labor intensive process. However, it is considered to produce a higher-quality vodka. Given Tito’s mass appeal and current production it is likely that they now use both column and pot stills, although their website claims it is all batch made in old-fashioned pot stills.
The Tito’s story is actually pretty cool, Tito’s is the oldest legal brewery in Texas and was only founded in 1995. I say legal because moonshining was and still is common down south.
How Ketel One is Made
Unlike Tito’s corn-based vodka, Ketel One is distilled from wheat. Ketel One exclusively uses 100% GMO-free Winter Wheat which is naturally grown in Europe.
Ketel One uses column distillation in which they grind down the wheat and mix it with water to form their vodka mash. This creates a high-purity vodka which is then re-distilled in large copper pots and is ultimately blended to a 40% ABV, or 80 proof.
Unlike Tito’s, Ketel One produces a number of flavored ‘botanical’ vodka’s whereas Tito’s solely produces its flavorless spirit. Ketel One has a more lengthy history, with claims of dating back more than 330 years.
Tito’s vs. Ketel One Differences
- Tito’s is distilled in Austin, TX and Ketel One is from The Netherlands
- Ketel One is wheat-based and Tito’s is corn-based
- Both have the same 40% ABV
- Ketel One produces flavored vodka’s whereas Tito’s doesn’t
- Tito’s is pot distilled whereas Ketel One uses a combination of pots and column stills
The largest differences lie in where the vodka is produced and its base mash. There is a lot of debate over vodka bases and whether they affect the ultimate flavor. Ultimately, it’s difficult to compare since most vodka’s lack distinct notes and flavors.
With that being said, most critics consider Ketel One to be more smooth than Tito’s.
Notes, Tastes and Flavors
As we’ve mentioned throughout, vodka is intended to be relatively flavorless. However, finer vodka spirits do have some very subtle tastes and a lot of vodkas do tend to have their own distinctive tastes.
According to Kettel One, their vodka has slight notes of citrus and honey along with a very smooth finish or taste on the tongue.
While Tito’s doesn’t provide its own take on its flavor, it is said to have hints of black pepper, citrus, and corn.
With that being said, you have to have a very refined vodka tasting palate to pick up on these flavor hints while sipping it. When mixed, you certainly aren’t going to notice any of these flavors.
Does Tito’s taste better than Ketel One? Honestly that is a personal preference, but vodka connoisseurs seem to agree that Tito’s has a bit more harsher of a taste whereas Ketel One is more smooth when consumed straight. However, when mixed there isn’t a very noticeable difference between the two.
Tito’s vs. Ketel One Price Comparison
A number of years ago Ketel One was priced more similarly with the higher end likes of Grey Goose and Belvedere. However, today it is much more reasonable and comparable in price to Tito’s.
A full 1.75L handle of Tito’s usually ranges from $26-$30 and a full handle of Ketel One is about $30-$35. It’s worth noting that these are the common prices at larger, high-volume liquor stores. Tito’s can usually inch a few dollars past $30 and Ketel One can get into the low $40’s when purchased at your small neighborhood liquor store.
Ketel One on average is probably going to run you about $5-$7 more than Tito’s for their unflavored 1.75L handle.
While price is used a lot of times to reflect quality keep in mind that Ketel One is produced in the Netherlands. Therefore, if you are a US buyer then the price you are paying is also reflective of the costs of importing the spirits into the US from the Netherlands.
Does Tito’s or Ketel One Have Higher Ratings?
According to Drizly.com, Ketel One has a user rating of 4.8 based on 1,420 reviews. Tito’s has a 4.9 rating based on 914 reviews. However, according to Distiller.com, Tito’s has a 3.81 rating whereas Ketel One has a 3.89 rating.
Overall, the ratings between Ketel One and Tito’s are very similar. These however are consumer ratings and distinguishing between two vodka’s for the average consumer is quite difficult.
Since both of these brands are mid-level vodka’s and tend to be used more heavily with mixers there aren’t a lot of formal competitions or professional ratings for which we can compare the two vodka’s from the eyes of professional vodka tasters.
Tito’s vs. Ketel One: On-the-Rocks vs. Mixed
Since Tito’s is distilled from corn instead of wheat it has a slightly harsher taste on the tongue and throat. Ketel One on the other hand is considered to be more smooth. We all have our preferences for how we like our vodka, but our opinion is that Ketel One is better on the rocks since it goes down more easily and smooth.
Tito’s is probably the most popular mixer vodka since it is virtually tasteless, unless mixed with very light beverages. Ketel One is also very light and unnoticeable when mixed. However, the high price point of Ketel One makes Tito’s our preferred mixer vodka. That is unless you are mixing it with water or pouring some very stout drinks.
If you properly measure out your drinks or use a low ratio of alcohol to mixer then you are unlikely to notice any difference. Additionally, if you are mixing your vodka with very sweet beverages like lemonade then you also probably won’t notice a difference. However, for drinks such as martinis that use higher vodka contents, you will likely notice a bit of a smoother taste from the Ketel One whereas the Tito’s can make the drink slightly more harsh.
Which is Better? Tito’s vs. Ketel One
We personally tend to favor Tito’s since we mostly mix our vodka and we tend to mix it with sweeter drinks like lemonades, teas, and soda. While we appreciate the more smooth finish on Ketel One only on occasion can we handle sipping vodka straight or with a splash of water. And at a slightly lower price point it just makes sense since the taste difference isn’t noticeable to us when mixing.
On the other hand, if you do sip vodka straight frequently or make some fancier cocktails like martini’s then we would recommend Ketel One over Tito’s.
It’s hard to distinguish which is better based off of ratings as there aren’t many professional ratings where the two were compared by the same set of experienced judges. Consumer reviews insinuate that both are very similar and don’t put one ahead of the other by any purposeful margins.
Overall, Tito’s is better for mixing since it is more affordable and Ketel One is better for drinking straight or on the rocks. However, we recommend trying both to compare as personal preference is probably the biggest factor here.
Interested in something else? Check out our comparison of two of the most popular top shelf vodkas – Grey Goose vs Belvedere.
Is Kettle One Gluten Free? Tito’s?
Yes. Even though Ketel One is sourced with wheat which contains gluten, all distilled alcohol is considered gluten free unless gluten is added after it’s distilled.
Some people with celiac’s disease opt to go for vodka that isn’t sourced from grains that contain gluten. One of those grains being corn. Since Tito’s is a corn based vodka, it is essentially gluten free before distillation as well.
Regardless, both Ketel One and Tito’s are considered gluten free by the FDA.