Tito's Handmade Vodka is a vodka brand made by Fifth Generation, founded by Tito Beveridge in 1997 in Austin, Texas — specializing in vodka made from yellow corn, rather than potatoes or wheat.
Marketing its brand as Tito's Handmade Vodka, the company originally craft-distilled its products in copper pot stills at Texas' first legal distillery. By 2001, the brand was no longer a micro-distillery, having surpassed the industry standard of 40,000 cases for a craft distillery as defined by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).
Now made in a facility with ten floor-to-ceiling stills and equipment bottling 500 cases an hour, the brand recorded a sales volume of approximately 3.8 million 9 liter cases in the United States as of 2016 and a market share of 7.1% of the United States Vodka market as of 2017.
Bert Butler "Tito" Beveridge II is a native of San Antonio, Texas. He received the diminutive nickname "Bertito", shortened to "Tito", from his Latino caregivers in childhood. Beveridge attended the University of Texas where he became a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
Beveridge first produced his spirits as a hobby after making infusions of inexpensive vodka as gifts and using a pot still. Commercial production began in 1997 when Beveridge formed Fifth Generation, Inc. and established the Mockingbird Distillery, producing 1,000 cases that year. In 2007, the brand sold over 160,000 cases. Production remains at the heavily expanded southeast Austin distillery.
Sales and distribution of Tito's Handmade Vodka expanded in 2001 after Tito's Handmade Vodka won the Double Gold Medal for vodka at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Also that year, it received a four-star ranking from Spirit Journal and won four stars again in the 2007 edition. Beginning in 2013, United Airlines began serving only Tito's for its inflight vodka beverages.
In 2014, two false advertising lawsuits were filed against Tito's in California and Florida. The California lawsuit alleged that Tito's vodka cannot be described "handmade" because it is made from "commercially manufactured 'rectified spirits (neutral grain spirit)' that is trucked and pumped into Tito's industrial facility"; it is distilled in a large industrial complex with modern, technologically advanced stills; and is produced and bottled in extremely large quantities (i.e., it is ‘mass produced). Since the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates labeling of liquor in the US, does not actually define "handmade," both lawsuits rely on the dictionary definition of the word. The main lawsuits, Hofmann v. Fifth Generation, Inc. and Cabrera v. Fifth Generation, Inc., were dismissed in May 2016.
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