We’re seeing a bit of a battle between health and booze currently.
Despite all research into alcohol showing that a little bit of what you fancy does you good (no seriously, I can show you a slew of journal papers, just message me), there’s still this idea that booze is bad.
Now, don’t get me wrong, drinking too much, drinking to find oblivion, addiction etc are bad. No argument, alcohol abuse happens. But given that the Government lowered the drinking guidelines despite advice that they didn’t need to, and Scotland have brought in single unit pricing, it can feel like everyone is against the drinker (one of the reasons I’m a spokesperson for Drinkers Voice).
All of the above said, there are still those who feel that how we drink should change. Millennials are the current latest target (first we ‘hated’ hipsters, now apparently we ‘hate’ the younger generation) and this is perhaps one of the reasons that Victor Ruiz Lafita, Co-Founder and CEO of Vita Spirits decided to create a flavoured vodka designed specifically to be drunk with water. Yes the ideals of ‘clean eating’ are finding their way into how we drink. So I asked him about it.
(NB: I hate the term millennial and this insistence that their experiences and input aren’t valid. Oh and I also hate the term clean eating).
What sparked the idea? And how is the product made?
The idea for VITA came from my own personal experience. I spent a lot of the Summer of 2016 with some friends on a boat off the coast of Ibiza and towards the end of the season I started to feel like the beautiful Summer of social drinking had started taking its toll on my appearance and my health. I’m aware it’s no revelation that drinking has side effects, but it did get me thinking about the lack of healthy mixer options. And that was it; I decided to make a vodka that was specifically designed to taste fantastic when it’s mixed with just water – still, fizzy, soda, whatever your preference.
VITA is triple distilled with natural citruses from the Mediterranean, meaning that water is all it needs to bring those great and refreshing citrus flavours to life. And the lack of sugary mixers means that VITA also offsets dehydration while cutting down the potential calorie intake.
Why is the drink heavily ‘health’ focused?
We think it’s pretty clear that the world is steadily becoming more and more aware of the health implications of sugar. When brands like Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Red Bull are releasing new sugar-free or healthier options, you know that there’s market demand. And it’s millennials (myself and the majority of my team included) that are leading this healthy, lifestyle-conscious trend. As many as 24% of UK drinkers think about their calorie intake when they choosing a drink (Mintel 2015), but despite that huge number, healthy-option-thinking hasn’t really hit the alcoholic drinks market yet. Until now.
Why a vodka in a what’s proving a gin heavy market currently? There are numerous gluten free gins, and those intended to be drunk without mixers, what are you bringing to drinkers that’s new?
Although the craft gin boom is really exciting, I think that it’s got to the point where the market is saturated with new gin brands. I don’t see the point of trying to be heard above all that clamour. Also, vodka is the largest market within UK spirits, consuming 15x more than in Spain where we’re the best-selling vodka on Amazon Spain. Vodka is my drink, I wasn’t going to start a business that I couldn’t even enjoy myself!
VITA is the first spirit specifically designed to be mixed with water. That means it’s completely free of carbs, sugars, artificial additives, etc. You can drink vodka shots or vodka-soda with the same effect, but they don’t taste particularly nice.
What bars in the UK currently have the spirit on their shelves? Where can we see it in the future?
Well, we’ve just started distributing in the UK, so it’s all preliminary stages and early days at the moment, but I’m so excited to kick our marketing and PR plan into action. We have a fantastic UK distributor who are raring to leverage their commercial network to reach on trade points of sale, so all your favourite bars and clubs, using their wholesale platform (Ooberstock).
As soon as our crowdfunding campaign comes to an end (currently overfunding at 158% of our target I’m very pleased to say!) we’ll be able to launch into the PR and marketing plan. And an important part of the funds we’ve raised will be used to increase market penetration in the UK by investing in on trade distribution. I can’t wait for you to try it.
After all that, I couldn’t help but try it, right?
So, on it’s own, Vita is basically a very ‘clean’ spirit with a hint of bitter lemon. It’s not about the acidity of it, or the florals of the fruit, it’s about the bitter notes, that create a freshness on the palate. So on it’s own, even with ice, it’s not something you’d particularly want to drink.
With ice and water, it’s akin to drinking iced water with a slice of lemon. There’s a hint of booze, but not much, so it’s totally approachable if you’re not into strong flavours, or as Victor would suggest, want to hydrate as you drink. And there’s no denying it’s refreshing.
But it begs the question, why not just drink any light style of vodka, with a slice of lemon and soda water? And for someone who enjoys flavour, who doesn’t drink to get drunk, but to enjoy what I’m drinking, it perhaps misses the point for me. I don’t tend to drink for drinkings sake. And there’s perhaps a concern for me that it’s simply an easy way to overindulge – or be unaware of how much you’re drinking.
But as a non-millennial (I just miss that label, I am instead, apparently a Xennial *rolls eyes*) maybe it’s just not how I drink?