February 14, 2011

Vodka Producers Find Value in Kosher

New York…The list of major vodka brands sold in the US without kosher certification is dwindling to a precious few. Crystal Head Vodka, created by entertainer Dan Aykroyd and American landscape artist and portraitist John Alexander, became the latest major vodka brand to become kosher certified when it received the endorsement by the Orthodox Union (OU). A leading wine and spirit expert told Kosher Today that sales of vodka have been steadily increasing in Orthodox Jewish areas, mostly by younger consumers. Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, OU Kosher’s Vice President, Communications and Marketing, was gratified to “welcome Crystal Head Vodka to the ever-growing list of the high class vodka and liquor products that have gained OU certification in recent years.” Rabbi Safran told Kosher Today that despite a perception by some that all vodka is inherently kosher “all flavored vodka requires certification.” He noted that many types of vodka are produced in distilleries that also produce other alcoholic beverages, including many grape based beverages. These can share equipment and cross contaminate grain based vodka. Additionally, some vodka is polished with glycerin. A number of rabbis have voiced concern at the “increased drinking habits” of many younger Orthodox Jews, but dismissed any notion that it has become a “problem.” One rabbi said: “Yes, there is definitely more drinking going on at the Shabbos Kiddush, but by and large you would call that “responsible consumption of alcohol.” For vodka producers, the increased demand has apparently not gone unnoticed.