May 9 A small-batch vodka made in Austin, Texas,
has found its way onto one of the world's biggest airlines.
Tito's Handmade Vodka, created by geologist and geophysicist
Bert "Tito" Beveridge, is now the exclusive vodka supplier to
United Airlines, the companies are set to announce on
They declined to discuss terms of the agreement, but
industry sources say that selling alcohol to airlines is not
that profitable, since drinks are often complimentary in
Business or First Class.
Still, for Tito's, which is relatively small and virtually
unknown outside the United States, Canada and the U.S. Virgin
Islands, the deal is an opportunity to get the word out.
"I never thought it would go from being this one-man show
to being on an airline. I always thought you had to be this big
multinational corporation for that," said the 51-year-old
Tito's replaced Pernod Ricard's Absolut vodka on
United flights at the start of the month. A spokesman for Pernod
declined to comment.
Vodka is the top-selling spirit on airplanes, as it is in
the United States. It is also quite competitive.
The world's No. 1 vodka, which is also the top-selling
spirit of any kind, is Diageo Plc's Smirnoff, which rang
up an estimated 26.3 million 9-liter cases last year, according
to Impact Databank.
The United States alone accounted for some 65 million cases
of vodka last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council
of the United States. Absolut sold about 4.7 million cases here
last year, according to Impact Databank, which also said Tito's
sold about 850,000 cases.
That makes Tito's small compared with the giants, but
already too big to be a "craft" distiller, which the Distilled
Spirits Council defines as a maker of 40,000 cases or less.
Beveridge attributes part of his success to his pricing. A
750 ml bottle might sell for just under $20, in line with
premium brands like Absolut and Stolichnaya, but well below very
high-end brands like Grey Goose and Belvedere.
"I make a filet mignon but I sell it at a pot roast price,"