Making Vodka and Giving Back

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Perhaps with a name like Tito Beveridge it seems natural that that the man behind Central Texas’ beloved vodka would go into his current line of work. But before he started making small batches of vodka for fun, a path that led to the brand Tito’s Vodka, Beveridge worked in geology and geophysics, and then the mortgage business.

It was in the early 1990’s, while working in the mortgage business, that the San Antonio native began making small batches of flavored vodka for friends and quickly became known as “the vodka guy.” He generated so much interest, he thought it might be worth looking into selling his vodkas, so he asked around at liquor stores. There wasn’t much of a market for flavored vodkas, Beveridge was told, but if he could make something smooth that people would drink straight up, he might have a good product on his hands.

So his scientific mind went to work, and he began researching how to distill. “It was pre-Internet, and I couldn’t find any books on it,” Beveridge says. “It’s almost like someone had done a book burning…so I was basically a self-taught distiller. Distilling is a weird little art, it’s one of those things you just have to start doing.”

Photography by Michael Thad Carter

Sixteen years later, it’s safe to say that he’s nailed it. Tito’s now runs the state’s first legal (keyword: legal) distillery, although certainly not its last. The vodka has won accolades from the likes of the Wall Street Journal and Martha Stewart, as well as hometown Texans who like the smooth flavor.

“I have this taste in my brain that I’m always trying to bring into reality,” Beveridge says. “I think the perfect vodka should be like cool, Hill Country spring water. The Tito’s difference is that it doesn’t have any real sharp points to it. It’s a full-bodied, well rounded, easy drinking, sipping vodka. The true test of any vodka is if you can get up in the morning and say ‘I had a great time,’ and not feel like anyone’s throwing a stake in your brain.”

Vodka is made from corn, which means Beveridge and his team have also become agricultural experts of sorts (it also makes Tito’s gluten-free). No one crop of corn is ever going to be the same, and Beveridge says he’s become known as a picky chef for sending back corn he found lacking.

Despite his early start with flavored vodkas – and an appreciation for some of the infusions that his vodka lends itself to – Beveridge says his favorite way to drink Tito’s is with a little sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Beveridge went from bootstrapping the distillery to a company that now employs 50. A big part of his ethos, and the company’s, is giving back to the community. Last year alone, Tito’s donated vodka to about 3,500 charity events, including 600 within the LGBT community.

“My belief has always been that if you can go and be a good partner with your community, everybody gets ahead,” Beveridge says. “I think it’s great that some people devote their life to helping other people, and I’m happy to help.”

 

 

 

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A native New Englander, Kate moved to Austin in 2002 to attend graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where she got her master’s degree in journalism. She spent several years as a reporter with the Austin Business Journal, where she covered health care, development and real estate. Kate now runs Thumbtack Communications, where she provides ghostwriting, copywriting, social media strategy and PR in addition to writing bylined articles. She lives in Central Austin with her husband, son, and two cranky cats. When she’s not writing, she’s playing guitar, gardening or hiking.

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