Claims are made by companies on a daily basis to help sell products and bolster brand identity, however (and unfortunately for us), these claims are not always true. With this being said, one of our readers recently wrote to us, asking about a lawsuit filed a few years ago about a certain claim that a company has not only made but branded themselves with, that may not be true. The company would be the budding in popularity, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and the lawsuit simply alleges that Tito’s vodka is not handmade. The reader, who wished to stay anonymous, asked us to look into the case a bit and see what the deal was with the allegations. Being Tito’s drinkers ourselves, Consider The Consumer opted to take on the challenge and gather up as much information as possible. Here’s what we know so far:
The plaintiffs make a point of saying that “handmade” must mean “made by hand” and not by a machine, which usually correlates to a superior product quality. Being that Tito’s manufactures, markets, and sells Tito’s Handmade Vodka, labeled as such, the allegations state that these representations are “false, deceptive and misleading” as the vodka is actually made, manufactured, and produced in “massive buildings containing ten floor-to-ceiling stills,” bottling “500 cases an hour” using automated machinery and highly mechanized processes.
These alleged misrepresentations continue on Tito’s website as well, where the company gives “Tito’s Story” as one that started with handmade small batches and continues today to operate in the same manner:
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is produced in Austin at Texas’ first and oldest legal distillery. It’s made in small batches in an old fashioned pot still by Tito Beveridge (actual name), a 50-something geologist, and distilled six times. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is designed to be savored by spirit connoisseurs and everyday drinkers alike. It is microdistilled in an old-fashioned pot still, just like fine single malt scotches and high-end French cognacs. This time-honored method of distillation requires more skill and effort than modern stills, but it’s well worth it.
The website goes on to show, proudly, that its product is “handcrafted in Texas” and also, “HANDCRAFTED TO BE SAVORED RESPONSIBLY.”
Support for Claim: Tito’s Vodka is not handmade
According to its website, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, yes, the entire company, consists of only 50 individuals, yet they managed to bottle 850,000 cases of vodka and generate an estimated $85 million in revenue in 2012. Now, we’re not saying that it’s an impossible feat, but we are saying that those 50 individuals all deserve a raise if that is the case.
Tito’s sales continued to climb in 2013 as well, as the company sold a total of 1.2 million cases. Having produced over one million cases of Vodka a year, Tito’s far exceeds the realm of “craft spirits,” which according to Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is defined as producing fewer than 40,000 cases per year.
At the moment, this is all Consider The Consumer knows about this pending case, but we do believe it sounds fishy. We understand, after hearing from the law firm who filed, that the case is still underway and hopes to be settled soon.
We have reached out with a few questions to both the law firm and Tito’s. If and when either responds, we will host updates on our website.
Handmade or not, please remember drink responsibly.