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Purity Vodka: Countering the Flavored Booze Trend

Hot & Cool Food Trends

The idea of plain vodka feels almost quaint these days, in these times when it seems almost every day we learn of an outrageous new flavored vodka being introduced. Choices just keep getting weirder with flavors like “fluffed marshmallow,” “cupcake” and “peanut butter & jelly,” and such new additions as "fresh cut grass" and "sour apple sass." Flavored vodka now accounts for more than 20 percent of the $2.8 billion vodka market in the U.S.

Purity Vodka aims to be the antithesis of this trendy flavored vodka movement. Purity positions itself as a “craft spirit” brand and it has legitimate credentials. Produced in small batches at a 13th Century castle in Sweden, the liquor has won lots of awards, but has little consumer awareness outside of the upscale hotels and restaurants where it is mostly sold in the U.S.

The brand hopes to change that lack-of-awareness situation, and soon. Purity has launched a new ad campaign that targets one of the biggest and best-known players in the premium vodka category, Grey Goose.

In one of the ads, the bold text reads: "Like cranberry juice in your vodka? May we recommend Grey Goose." The folks behind Purity recommend you drink their stuff, well, in its purest form. "We believe the smooth yet full-bodied taste of Purity Vodka is best enjoyed straight up or on the rocks," is how they put it in the ad.

Andy Glaser, who took over as CEO of Purity Vodka in 2011, expects a new trend to take hold in the category. "I think the bubble is going to burst " on flavored vodkas, he told Advertising Age magazine. "There is a credibility factor," he added. "Some of these flavors now, they are sweet, they are sugary, they have PB&J flavored vodkas or cotton-candy-flavored vodkas." Those styles, he said, won't align with the "upward, aspirational trend" that will take over as the economy improves.

Glaser says consumers want brands that "they haven't seen before, that are well made, and offer them a different type of value."

Master Blender Thomas Kuuttanen spent more than a decade developing the recipe for Purity Vodka. Ingredients include winter wheat, malted barley and natural spring water. The vodka is made in a gold-and-copper still at Ellinge Castle in southern Sweden, where it is distilled 34 times to produce the "perfect cut" of "full-bodied" vodka that is not filtered like a lot of other brands.

Purity Vodka, as you probably surmised, isn’t cheap. It runs about $40 a bottle and targets the high-end vodka consumer. It’s sold in 25 countries worldwide, and is now available in 10 states in the U.S., including key markets Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York. The brand hopes to add distribution in two more states in 2013.

Well, I guess you could always garnish it with mini marshmallows, or a little fresh cut grass.

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