HOUSTON – Welcome to Made in Texas, where we write about products made in the Lone Star State.
Today we’re featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka, also known as America’s original craft vodka, and the man behind the Austin-made spirit.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a gluten-free, corn-based vodka produced in the state’s first and oldest legal distillery.
The spirit is distilled six times and bottled by Fifth Generation Inc., according to its website.
Is “Tito“ an actual person?
Yes! The person for whom the spirit is named after is its creator Bert “Tito” Beveridge, which by the way, isn’t it ironic that the pronunciation of his last name sounds just like the word “beverage”?
Beveridge, a geophysicist, geologist and sixth-generation San Antonian, obtained the state’s first legal distilling permit and created the popular vodka brand. He was also in charge of creating the bottle’s label in 1994.
The story behind it
“Tito” began making flavored vodka for his friends as Christmas presents and one day, while at a keg party, a random person approached him telling him he had tried all flavors and suggested Beveridge to sell them.
Beveridge attempted to sell his vodka at a liquor store but had no success.
“If you could make a vodka so good, if you tried it that you said ‘smooth', then you might have something,” the liquor store clerk told Beveridge, according to a video from the drink’s YouTube series called “Tito’s Stories.”
Beveridge then had the idea to build a distillery, so he purchased some land with his maxed-out credit cards, built a still from the ground up and taught himself how to distill, according to another video from the series.
Sticking labels with Elmer’s Glue, filling up bottles from the still and closing them was all done by hand, Beveridge eventually asked a few friends for help and compensated each of them with a case of vodka.
He then asked each of his friends to share a bottle with another friend and that’s how the brand was first able to expand.
Beveridge sold the first case of Tito’s Handmade Vodka in 1997.