14th July, 2014 by Rupert Millar
Snow Leopard, the “world’s first” ethical vodka, has been launched in Hong Kong.
A new addition to the Edrington Group, Snow Leopard was founded by Stephen Sparrow who, as well as having a dedication to quality is also passionately concerned with saving the snow leopard from extinction.
The vodka, as well as being ethical, is also unique because it uses spelt grain which is five times more expensive than the grains used in other vodkas.
Made in Poland at the Polmos Lubin distillery, Snow Leopard is distilled six times for extra smoothness using water drawn from a well within the grounds of the distillery.
It has amassed an array of admirers including Prince Harry, Prince Albert of Monaco, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood and a number of accolades in a short period of time but the most important aspect of it is its conservation element.
Fifteen percent of all profits go to conservation projects in countries including Mongolia, China, India and Krgyzstan – the mountainous homelands of the snow leopard.
The projects are not always directly related to the preservation of the animal, many go to the local communities with vaccinations given to livestock, their herders provided with insurance and economic enterprise programmes provided for women.
These projects altogether work towards changing perceptions and educating local communities which, ultimately, helps to protect the snow leopard.
Since launching in 2006, Snow Leopard has raised US$100,000 for conservation. The Edrington Group has declared its intention to raise annual sales to over 150,000 cases which would mean that it would donate US$1 million a year to the charity.
Brad Rutherford, head of The Snow Leopard Trust, has said this would be the “step change” required to get the snow leopard off the endangered list within a generation.