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Tito Talks Vodka

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Tito Beveridge

Founder, Tito’s Handmade Vodka

titosvodka.com

Bert “Tito” Beveridge II opened the first legal distillery in Texas in 1995. The 49-year-old San Antonio native perfected his recipe with a 16-gallon copper pot still in a bunkhouse-like structure on a barren plot of land south of the airport. Today, that 26-acre site houses a complex of warehouses and 12,000-gallon stills, employs 37 and last year, cranked out over 300,000 cases of Tito’s award-winning recipe for all 50 states and Canada. “We drink what we can and sell the rest,” said the ex-geophysicist/water geologist/mortgage broker Beveridge with a smile.

“I’d been making vodka infusions for Christmas presents for years. My friends told me I ought to sell ‘em, but I just thought they wanted more free vodka.”

“I was in the mortgage business, but the rates went up a couple of points and killed me. A guy on TV said when you’re trying to figure out what to do, take a sheet of paper and on one side, list what you love to do and on the other side, list what you’re good at. Then stare at it until you come up with your dream job. The idea was that if you wind up doing something you love every day, you’d probably end up doing good.”

“I always liked drinking vodka and so did my girlfriends. Somebody said that if you could make a really smooth vodka that a girl could drink straight, then you might really have something, because then the guy would buy it for her and he’d probably drink it too.”

“I was all-in at the beginning. At one point I had, like, 19 credit cards maxed out. It wasn’t pretty. My back was kind of up against the wall, so I built a 175-gallon still and cooked and re-cooked and re-cooked until I finally had it the way I wanted it. I’d be standing over the still, stirring it with a big paddle. We’d put the labels on with Elmer’s Glue. My son would stand on a box and put caps on the bottles. It was pretty cool.”

“I’m a geophysicist and was good in math and I knew (success) was something that volume would fix. I knew I needed to do 5,000-6,000 cases a year to break even. If I could get to that point, I’d be home free. There wasn’t anything magical about it. I hit my seventh year and everything got easier.”

“There was absolutely a stigma about being from Texas, in the beginning. The first year I went around Texas, people wouldn’t even try it. Vodka should be made in Russia or Finland or somewhere. Not in Texas. Then they’d try it and say, ‘Hey, that’s good! Austin? You’re kidding me! Wow!’”

“In 2001, we won the Double Gold Medal over 72 vodkas in the World Spirits Competition. That was really satisfying. You know how Texans are – if you enter a rodeo, by golly, you’re entering it to win.”

“You’d think after so many thousands of batches of vodka, you’d get blasé. But it’s like making wine. You’re using an agricultural product (corn) and the conditions are always different. You’re always timing, tasting, cooking it differently. It’s a cerebral and engineering challenge, both.”

“It’s like you’re trying to perform a little magic trick; no matter what comes in the back door, by the time it comes out the front door, it’s got to be a world-class, beat-anybody product.”

“It’s hard to do one thing really well. To scale up from making enough for your neighbors to making enough for the whole country, that’s hard. We’re always competing with ourselves. Can you make it better? Let’s not rest on our laurels.”
“The best part is drinking the vodka!”

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166 Comments

  1. Sylvia hopper on

    Just saw a small add in the L.A. Times. Have to say the name “Tito” was what 1st got my attention . Plus made in the USA sounded pretty good. That maybe you were a ” Hombre Macho”. Anyway if you’re from Texas, gotta have salsa in you somewhere. Only kidding, Big ole Boy!Anyway is your Vodka available in ca. Hopefully in the Long Beach, Signal Hill area?

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