The Tasting Panel magazine

Tasting Panel October 2010

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Page 30 of 96

BRAND SPOTLIGHT Far (East) Forward TY KU ENTREPRENEUR TRENT ULICNY CHANGES THE FACE OF SAKÉ F rom soccer to saké is a quite a segue, but Trent Ulicny, a former soccer player and more recently the co-founder of TY KU Liqueur (and fol- lowed by TY KU Saké and TY KU Soju), has managed to score goal after goal in the spirits game, with one of the most unique brands to emerge in the industry’s recent history. A play on Tai Chi and haiku, TY KU is indeed a combination of healthful ingredients and (liquid) poetry. Superfruits and green tea are part of TY KU Liqueur’s make-up, including yuzu (for vitamin C), mangosteen (rich in anti- oxidants), Tibetan goji berry (boasting 18 amino acids and vitamins), honeydew and ginseng. TY KU is the recipient of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences’ prestigious Five Star Diamond Award. “There was no existing brand loyalty when it came to the saké category,” explains Ulicny, who, with business partner Kirk Spahn launched the saké-based liqueur in the tall triangular glowing green bottle three years ago in Las Vegas. The brand can now be found in 50 states and 50 countries. As a follow-up, at a time when vodkas, tequilas and me-too spirits were fl ooding the market, Ulicny and Spahn not only branded a line-up of sakés, but built their reputation on the ultra- premium side of the category, with a junmai ginjo and a junmai daiginjo under the TY KU name. “We were enamored with Asian culture,” claims Ulicny. “We knew how important it was to create a name that carried our message, our passion. We didn’t want to merely establish a trendy brand, but something that would actually create a following because it was a name to trust.” TY KU White recently won Double Gold and Best in Class at the San Francisco International Wine Competition; this special-designation junmai daigingo—a top quality level that TY KU White is known as the Crown Jewel of Saké for a reason. The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, the world’s premiere organization for awarding excel- lence in travel, cuisine, luxury products and services, has bestowed its Six Star Diamond Award on this ultra- premium saké. This is the fi rst-ever beverage brand to be acknowledged by the organization, directed by Joseph Cinque and with a long list of Honorary Trustees that includes Donald Trump, along with a line-up of chefs, hoteliers, restaurateurs and captains of industry. 30 / the tasting panel / october 2010

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