Vodka: A tale of terroir

The damaged reputation of vodka has been restored at a dramatic pace. Having been derided as tasteless and boring in the wake of plummeting sales, there’s now a sense of optimism coming from both the craft and corporate spheres. By James Lawrence

“Where once bartenders may have considered vodka an easy or lazy option as a cocktail base, they are beginning to see the purity and subtlety of super-premium vodka as an opportunity to demonstrate their highly-honed cocktail making skills,” enthuses Yann Marois, Grey Goose global vice-president and chief marketing officer.

“Vodka is now more popular than ever in Vienna, particularly when used in cocktails for our Viennese and international guests,” agrees leading bartender Lukas Hockmuth, of The RitzCarlton Vienna. Such enthusiasm is borne out by craft brands such as Chase, which reports a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of vodka in the past five years.

“Sales have been quite exceptional, and we are really flattered by the kind support of all our customers. We are on track for a sustainable 65% growth year on year on our main lines,” says founder William Chase. Chase, like many others, is quick to attribute vodka’s resurgence to a heightened emphasis on its heritage and raw materials, an approach that stands in marked contrast to the design/ endorsement orientated marketing of big vodka brands.

It’s a discussion that has taken place for several years, and the common thread that ties together the marketing strategies of the craft and larger premium brands. Roman Park, managing director of Ellustria (new owner of the Snow Queen brand), says: “Consumers have become increasingly conscious about what they buy. Every market is having to premiumise themselves to appeal to consumers who are looking for only the best ingredients and highest quality products. This has forced Snow Queen and the wider spirits industry to switch its focus to higher-quality brands.”

One Response to “Vodka: A tale of terroir”

  1. Susan McHenry says:

    According to the EU registry of Spirits, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia also have PGI status for their vodka. Has this changed recently? Thanks for the excellent article.

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