Tito’s Vodka Origin Story (podcast)

Dec 8th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show
The fixings for a seasonal cocktail using Tito's Handmade Vodka

The fixings for a seasonal cocktail using Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Holiday party time is here, and those of us who like to keep our cocktails as local as our appetizer ingredients, are lucky to have a wide range of locally-distilled spirits with which to stock the bar this season.

The granddaddy of Texas distilled spirits is Tito’s Handmade Vodka, produced in Texas’ first and oldest legal distillery. But like many products, it has a past that doesn’t quite resemble the present. I spoke with Tito Beveridge, Master Distiller about the origin story of his product.

“I was a vodka drinker, and started making vodka infusions as gifts for friends at Christmas” he began. He went on to tell me the gifts were received with great enthusiasm from friends, who soon encouraged him to sell his creations.  Tito was not as enthusiastic. “I thought they just wanted more free booze,” he laughed.

It wasn’t until strangers who’d tasted the infusions at his booze swilling buddies homes also started encouraging him to sell his vodka drinks did he even consider the possibility.

“So I took some of them to a liquor store in Austin, and the guy chased me out saying ‘you can’t bring booze like that into a place like this.'” Tito took the samples back to his car and returned to the store to talk to the man who’d chased him out. They got into a long discussion of the rules and regulations of the industry. And then the liquor store proprietor told Tito infusions were not the way to go.

“He told me that if I could make a vodka that girls could drink straight, then I’d have something. When I asked how to do that, he said: ‘you’re the vodka guy; you figure it out.'”

And he did. A geophysicist and geologist by training, he put some of his science knowledge and engineering skills to work making vodka.

He started by conducting blind tasting with friends on nearly every vodka on the market, assessing their flavor profiles. Of the 86 they tried, only two passed muster.  So the plan from there was to make a vodka that tasted better than the two best from his blind trials.

He read everything he could, used historic images of moonshiners stills as a guide, watched YouTube videos on distilling, and cobbled together his first pot still from items he bought from home improvement centers and outdoors stores among other places.

Over time, he hit on his recipe and process.

Using 100% yellow dent corn (making it gluten free),  with water from the City of Austin, and distilled at least six times — Tito created a spirit that’s been winning awards since it first his the market in 1997.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a far cry from the original infusions he made for friends those many Christmases ago, but he’s managed to create a smooth-bodied, liquor that not only “girls can drink straight” but blends unobtrusively with whatever else tipplers may choose to mix with it.

Happy Holidays!

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  1. This was great sis! Still want a autograph photo of Tito! ha ha