Tito’s Vodka Probably Isn’t as “Handmade” as it Wants You to Think

The company's been subject to lawsuits challenging the claim

Tito's
Just how "handmade" is Tito's?
Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Ark Endeavors
By Kayla Kibbe / October 19, 2019 9:01 am

Tito’s vodka has always leaned heavily into its handmade origins, defending the claim stated on the label even as the brand has expanded to become the top-selling spirit in America. However, as Tammie Teclemariam recently reported for Eater, “America’s Original Craft Vodka” may not technically be as “handmade” as its homegrown Texas origin story takes pains to imply.

Tito himself, aka Bert Butler Beveridge, II, has defended his product against criticisms that the company is too big to be truly craft, claiming that the vodka is made the same way it was back when he first launched the now-billion-dollar company in the mid ’90s, “just with a lot more stills.” Critics remain skeptical, however, and in 2015 the brand faced a class-action lawsuit filed by a customer who claimed to have discovered that Tito’s purportedly “handmade” production process was actually “highly automated.” The suit was eventually settled for an undisclosed sum, ultimately revealing no further information about Tito’s secretive production processes.

While the company has taken pains to keep that info under wraps in order to protect its handmade image, Eater suggests that the volume of vodka the company produces speaks for itself: “Based on the sheer quantity of Tito’s output,” writes Teclemariam,”its vodka is almost certainly made by re-distilling pre-made grain neutral spirit, or GNS, an industrial high-proof alcohol produced in massive distilleries by large agribusiness firms.”

Brad Plummer, editor-in-chief of Distiller Magazine and Director of Communications at the American Distilling Institute, agrees that the volume of Tito’s massive output disqualifies the brand from craft status. “If you’re making anywhere near 100,000 gallons, then you’re a giant distillery that has a team of 15 distillers and stills operating around the clock and are probably owned by multiple investors,” Plummer told Eater, adding that any product produced at that scale is “made in a refinery essentially.”

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