Bars and nightclubs are filled with fancy bottles designed to attract attention and create an aura of superiority, yet one of the most called-for vodkas, Tito’s, chose a more humble approach. The brand has perpetually grown market share by delivering consistent quality in a clear glass bottle adorned with an unassuming brown label.
A multi-billion-dollar “small batch” brand, Tito’s has grown to become the best-selling vodka and distilled spirit in the country. Its founder, Bert Beveridge II, currently resides at No. 622 on Forbes’ richest people list with a net worth of $4.6 billion, though Bloomberg estimates his fortune at $9.68 billion. We’re mostly busy trying to get adopted by Mr. Beveridge, but meanwhile, here are some interesting facts about Tito’s you should know.
There is actually a Tito, and his last name will blow your mind.
The smiling, “I-kinda-wish-he-was-my-uncle” guy behind Tito’s is named Bert “Bertito” Beveridge II. Yep. His last name is Beveridge. Ironically — right, Alanis? — his surname isn’t what led him into the drinks business. (Historically the name “Beveridge” was used to describe “a man who made a practice of getting free drinks by entering into bargains which he did not keep.”)
There were horses and rocks before there was Tito’s.
Beveridge had a variety of pursuits that came before the booze business. He grew up in San Antonio, played polo, and wanted to train horses professionally. He studied geology and geophysics in college, tried his hand at oil drilling, and dabbled in the mortgage business — all the while distilling vodka for his friends as a hobby.
Love Tito’s? Thank Dr. Pepper.
The now-megabrand originally began with a homemade 16-gallon pot still that was fashioned out of “two Dr. Pepper kegs and a turkey-frying rig.” Beveridge studied pictures of Prohibition-era stills to reverse engineer the process. The Mockingbird distillery, covering 26 acres in Austin and named after the state bird that Tito saw as a good luck omen, is the oldest legal distillery in Texas. The operation has grown from a small still room in a shack to a highly efficient facility capable of pumping out millions of bottles a month, but the dedication to producing world-class, craft vodka remains the same.
Tito’s began in a pot still, which is uncommon for vodka.
Vodka tends to be made in column stills, which means putting any starch-containing distillate content (potatoes, corn, etc.) on the top of a massive column and flushing it with incredibly hot steam. Beveridge originally chose a pot still instead — a more labor-intensive process, but one that is widely recognized for producing high-quality spirits. Based on current production, it is believed that Tito’s now uses a combination of column and pot stills.
Tito’s distilling process is a company secret.
The brand is very secretive about its processes, and questions remain about the “handmade”claim on the label. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over the years suggesting that the spirit is now produced using an automated process, the most recent of which was settled out of court — a decision that prevented corporate secrets from being published in public documents. A reporter from Forbes described being “ushered away from massive buildings containing floor-to-ceiling stills” when visiting the distillery in 2013, suggesting that Tito’s “handmade” claim may be just that.
Tito’s is very intentionally made from corn.
Vodka can be made from just about anything, and it’s debatable whether you can really taste the difference after so many distillations since vodka is defined by its lack of flavor, taste, and odor. But Tito’s chooses corn for a very specific reason: It’s easy to get and is economically viable, as the local crop is fit only for cattle before the brand works its magic (distilling its corn mash six times).
Tito’s is gluten-free.
It’s on the bottle, and certified by an angry-sounding (but probably nice) council called the Gluten Intolerance Group. We’re not sure if it’s an attempt to jump on the trend bandwagon, but Tito’s chooses corn for its body.
Tito’s loves dogs as much as it loves making vodka.
Beveridge started the brand with his trusty friend Dogjo, a yellow labrador retriever, by his side, and the company has since been known for its work protecting animals. Tito’s created the Vodka for Dog People Program to raise funds and curate partnerships with organizations that “transport dogs from dangerous situations to safety.” The program supports dog charities like Wings of Rescue, an organization committed to finding forever homes for pets in need, Emancipet, a non-profit spay/neuter organization, as well as the ASPCA. (In case you’re curious, Tito’s also supports veterans through Operation Homefront.)
Tito’s was started with a pile of credit cards and very little cash.
Like most startups, Tito’s began in debt, to the tune of $90K spread out over 19 credit cards. Beveridge went all-in when he started the brand in 1997, “hand-bottling vodka, screwing caps on bottles, and putting Elmer’s glue on paper labels.” He even slept next to the still in the early days. But to say this was a sound investment is a profound understatement. Tito’s sales exploded more than 60 percent in 2017 and have increased approximately 20 percent annually since. And it’s worth billions now, with an estimated one-fourth share of the vodka market and revenues approaching $1.4 billion in 2020.
Sales projections have nearly doubled over the last five years.
The firm has eschewed industry trends and fanciful flavors and remains a one product brand. Quality and consistency are the keys to Tito’s success, with projected sales for 2021 representing nearly two million bottles a week. That’s a lot of Moscow Mules and vodka Martinis. It sure sounds like somebody’s having a good time out there.