The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2018

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1 14  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2018 CATEGORY REPORT In vodka production, the "heart" is the purest and most prized part of the distillation process, with master distillers diligently overseeing how much goes into the final product. In the case of Texas-based Tito's Handmade Vodka, there's plenty of heart in every copper-capped bottle, but there also exists an abundance of authentic charac- ter that this brand has steadfastly built throughout its history. What began as a one-man opera- tion in a tiny Austin shack in 1995 has evolved into nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Tito's helped lead the way in sparking the craft spirit revolu- tion, inspiring the multitude of small- batch spirits consumers enjoy today. Frank Polley, Tito's VP of Trade Marketing, describes the company's vodka as "our medium to make the world a better place," so philanthropy is fittingly at the forefront of the Tito's culture. According to Polley, the company's Love, Tito's program "empowers [employees] to give back to local, national, and global charities supporting disaster relief, the environ- ment, military and veterans, healthcare and medical research, food and beverage industry workers, arts and culture organizations, and the LGBTQ community." Meanwhile, Tito's Vodka for Dog People program donates a portion of proceeds from Tito's-branded pet products to Emancipet, a nonprofit focused on affordable veterinary care and spay/neuter services. Tito's Takes New York The production process behind Tito's Handmade Vodka adheres to an old-school approach rooted in practices and techniques that were groundbreaking at the time of their debut. "There are many reasons why Tito's continues to grow—first and foremost being taste, which is born from the pot-still distillation process," says Polley. "Another is authenticity, with Tito's entrepreneurialism and pioneer- ing craft approach dating back to a time when there was no such thing as a micro-distillery." What started micro has since gone macro, with Tito's boasting a massive fanbase of casual drinkers and hardcore mixologists alike. One such bartender is Phil Casaceli, the Owner/ Operator of Daddy-O in New York City's West Village. He's forthcoming about his own personal connection to Tito's, which he uses in his Angry Mule and Lemon Thyme Lemonade. "I met [Tito's Founder Bert 'Tito' Beveridge] about 12 years ago one night at Daddy-O," Casaceli recalls. "We got into some deep conversation A Cut Above: Tito's Handmade Vodka by Matt Jackson photos by Timothy Murray Phil Casaceli, Owner/Operator of Daddy-O in New York City, exclusively uses Tito's in his Lemon Thyme Lemonade and Angry Mule cocktails.

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