3:28 PM, Oct 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Victorino Matus, writing for the Wall Street Journal:
Is Tito ’s Handmade Vodka really handmade? Would it taste any less good if it weren’t anymore?
Type “handmade vodka” into Google and the first two pages of results are about one brand: Tito’s Handmade Vodka from Austin, Texas. You could say the “handmade” descriptive is essential to its identity, along with small-batch, craft-distilled, folksy even. The ads and website images show founder Bert “Tito” Beveridge in jeans and a button-down, standing proudly next to his potstill, sitting atop cases of his product, or beside his faithful dogs. On the label, aside from “handmade,” are the words “Crafted in an Old Fashioned Pot Still by America’s Original Microdistillery.”
But in the summer of 2013, Forbes published “The Troubling Success Of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.” As its author Meghan Casserly explains, “Tito’s has exploded from a 16-gallon pot still in 1997 to a 26-acre operation that produced 850,000 cases last year, up 46 percent from 2011, pulling in an estimated $85 million in revenue.” She also describes “massive buildings containing ten floor-to-ceiling stills and bottling 500 cases an hour.”
So it was inevitable: On Sept. 15, lawyers representing Gary Hofmann in California filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Tito’s “manufactured, marketed, and/or sold . . . ‘Tito’s Handmade’ Vodka to the California general public with the false representation that the Vodka was ‘handmade’ when, in actuality, the Vodka is made via a highly-mechanized process that is devoid of human hands.”
Whole thing here.
11:26 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Our affable colleague, senior editor Victorino Matus, is famous for his big head, big heart, big appetite—and encyclopedic knowledge of food, drink, the consumption of same, contemporary German politics, and the sociology of his native New Jersey.
How the flavorless, colorless, odorless spirit became a billion-dollar businessAug 15, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 45 • By VICTORINO MATUS
Unemployment once again has crept past 9 percent. GDP growth fell below 2 percent this last quarter. Inflation is up. Home values are down. There’s talk of a double-dip recession. According to one market analyst, “We’re on the verge of a great, great depression.” But through it all, there is one constant, a commodity that has not only survived during these harsh economic times, but even thrived.
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