May 31, 2011

Growing Number of Vodka Brands go Kosher

New York…Certification of Vodka producing companies has surged in recent years, according to national and international kashrus officials. Recently, the Orthodox Union announced the certification of Sloppy Betty Vodka, a wheat and sugar-cane based craft product, produced by Blackwater Distilling of Maryland. This follows the recent certification of Crystal Head Vodka by the Orthodox Union earlier this year. Exclusive Brands Distribution (EBD), a new Polish wines and spirits distributor, launched two kosher vodkas – Hava Nagila Kosher Vodka and Exclusive Kosher Vodka last month. Vodka accounts for over 27% of all distilled spirits sold in the US today, putting the number of liters sold in the hundreds of millions. While other spirits categories continue to rise, vodka remains America’s favorite. Currently, the most popular brand of vodka in the US and the entire world is Smirnoff, a British owned and produced product by Diageo. Many of Smirnoff’s products are certified by KSA. A close second and well-known advertiser in the US vodka market is Absolut, many of whose products are certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. In part due to a general increased consumption and interest in wine and spirits, as well as the popularity of the now ubiquitous “Kiddush club,” many US and international Vodka manufactures have opted to join the fold. While some kashrus agencies maintain that certain unflavored vodkas do not require certification, many companies choose to do so nonetheless. Reasons include kosher’s association with quality, kosher consumer’s higher purchasing power, and kosher’s insistence on purity and transparency. Additionally, innovation has come to the Vodka market as well, in the form of grape-based vodka. As reported in a previous issue of KosherToday, Aleph, a vodka made from grapes, hit shelves around Passover time last year and has since been well received.