The problem with some products that donate to charity is that the term “a portion of proceeds” can mean anything from a significant donation to pennies, says Mike Lutz, operations manager of Salute American Vodka. That’s why with his company’s vodka, $1 is donated to veterans organizations for every bottle purchased. “That’s built right into our cost and our business model,” Lutz says.
The patriotic vodka brand was started in Chicago, but acquired in 2016 by Handcrafted Brands of Branford, a state distributor. The vodka is bottled and distilled in Rochester, New York, using the Salute American Vodka recipe. Lutz says the company would like to move production to Connecticut in the future.
In the meantime, the brand is poised for success. Its launch party in April in Wallingford was co-hosted by retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Palumbo and former Super Bowl champion Tony Siragusa. Currently available in Connecticut, Boston, St. Louis and upstate New York, Lutz says the vodka will ultimately be released nationally.
In addition to its charitable donations and savvy marketing, the spirit is turning heads with what to some consumers will be the most important factor — its flavor. The corn-based vodka, which is distilled four times, was awarded a platinum medal from The Sip Awards and has earned high marks at other spirits competitions. “It’s got a sweeter taste profile because of the corn composition,” Lutz says.
Indeed, samples tasted for this story had subtle upfront corn-sweetness, but finished smooth, with less burn than many vodkas.