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Chad On Making Vodka Savvy

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Chad Auler

Founder and President, Savvy Vodka

Chad Auler came by the alcohol business honestly – his family owns Fall Creek Vineyards, which has been producing wine in the Hill Country since 1975. Limestone-filtered spring water, from Fall Creek Ranch, which Auler said he’s been drinking since childhood, forms the basis for Savvy Vodka, a small-batch, column-distilled product that went on the market in 2007.

“I grew up in the wine business from the time I was five years old. In high school I’d bring my buddies out to pick grapes alongside the workers. I appreciated the wine and I loved the business.”

“I went to UT and got an MBA degree. That’s where the vodka thing was hatched. The MBA program is very entrepreneurially focused and starting something from scratch was very, very appealing to me. I’d always been a vodka drinker, so I started doing three years of due diligence.”

“Three things make a super-premium vodka: The distillation process, water and the filtration. Russian monks were making vodka in pot stills 400 years ago; I think a column still is today’s state of the art. It lets you hold the temperature inside constant, which gives you consistency. Water tastes different everywhere, but the limestone caverns in the Hickory Aquifer, where our water comes from, act as a natural filter. And we filter Savvy five times over charcoal, very gently and slowly. Over a couple of days, it winds up being filtered something like 20 times.”

“We make 400 gallons at a time. You can make a better-crafted product when you’re making small batches. People are coming to appreciate artisanal products. We saw it in the wine business and we’re seeing it in the spirits business.”

“We can make vodka in about a week: We distill for two days. When it comes off the still, it’s 190 proof. We cut it down to 80 proof with spring water on Day Three. Filter it for two days, very gently and slowly and bottle it on Day Six.”

“We have 3,000 gallons of cooling water that we recycle over and over. Also, a column still only uses a fraction of the energy that a pot still uses. We’ve made a conscious effort to conserve energy and resources.”

“Corn or wheat or grapes or potatoes impart different flavors. We use corn from South Texas. It imparts a sweetness to the nose that I really like. Everything but the glass and the corks comes from Texas.”

“The base ingredient imparts different flavors and the water and filtration make a huge difference. Blind taste test 10 vodkas and you’ll be amazed by how different they all taste.”
“I love a martini straight up with a twist, or just slightly dirty. I want to be able to taste my vodka. I wanted to make the world’s best martini, basically.”

“I’m not interested in being the biggest, but I do want to be the best.”


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