March 2010

UpFront with Akvinta Vodka

By: Meridith May

A vodka so pure it has nothing to hide

It started in Croatia, where crystal clear springs from Red Lake—known to be one of Europe’s purest bodies of water filter through the earth from the foothills of the Dinaric Alps.

Where Croatia was once synonymous with slivovitz, a somewhat bitter distilled beverage made from plums, Akvinta brings a new romance to this part of the world. Mediterranean sunshine, fresh sea breezes and wheat grown in Tuscan soil create the telltale terroir that forms the character of a new vodka—one so pure it has nothing to hide.

At San Diego’s Wine Bank, Jeffrey Becker, President of Akvinta US A, stands in front of two full windows that showcase his vodka. PHOTO: AMY K. FELLOWS

Akvinta, as a brand, is four years old. The darling of the mixology scene in hip, happening London—it’s the cocktail-crazed city’s number-three-selling super-premium vodka—and with a growing presence in France and Italy, this European white spirit has just recently landed in the U.S.

Being USDA-certified organic and kosher are a just a couple of its attributes. Its taste is a whole different game. With a 95 score from THE TASTING PANEL and top-shelf status at such notable New York venues as Le Cirque, Nobu, Daniel, Adour, The Box, Touch and Pacha (where 100 cases a month is becoming de rigueur), Akvinta has dazzled the East Coast; the West Coast now has the opportunity to become acquainted.

What’s up with a vodka that just hit the states last September and is piquing the interest of top mixologists and savvy buyers?

“It’s the flavor profile and the character of the vodka,” says Nobu Los Angeles mixologist Marcus Voglreider, whose ten-year stint with one of the country’s most trending-setting bar scenes (he began with Nobu London, then Miami and opened L.A. two years ago) makes him wise to what is good in the alcohol brand category.

Voglreider picks up some exotic notes in Akvinta and has been inspired by its fragrant floral tones, white stone fruit and vanilla lushness to craft original cocktails that reflect the vodka’s charms.
Nobu Los Angeles mixologist Marcus Voglreider pours a signature Matsuhisa Martini—using Akvinta vodka, fresh ginger, junmai saké and cucumber slicesfor Jeffrey Becker. PHOTO: CATHY TWIGG-BLUMEL

Patented Filtration

There’s meaning behind the name Akvinta. AK offers a nod to the Latin word aqua, speaking to the purity of Croatian spring water. VIN pays homage to vinum, or wine—a symbol of sophistication, which certainly abounds in this vodka. And finally there’s the reference to QUINTA, hinting at the vodka’s quintuple filtration through five natural elements: charcoal, marble, silver, gold and platinum, adding texture and character to the spirit.

Building the “A” Team

As President of Akvinta USA, Jeffrey Becker, like any great leader, has built a team of marketing, public relations and sales experts to help build the brand.

In Manhattan, Becker has recruited five full-time sales people who understand the city’s on-premise scene and are valuable assets in getting the vodka in front of buyers. In California, he has partnered with well-connected brokerage firm Great Western Brokerage, headed by seasoned spirits guru Vince Martin.

Becker also plans to align with talented mixologists on both coasts who will speak the language of their on-premise peers to help promote the brand and stimulate unique recipes that showcase Akvinta’s special qualities.

“While categories such as botanically enhanced gin or wood-aged whiskies can add a more complex flavor profile to mixed drinks, we feel that Akvinta vodka provides a perfect canvas for a mixologist to paint a liquid picture, “Becker tells THE TASTING PANEL. Bartenders coast to coast are sure to sense the vibe.

Although Becker’s “A” team is building the brand, he defers to the vision of the man behind Akvinta, owner and founder Dmitry Zheleznyak. “Dmitry’s tireless energy in working the marketplace in New York has been one of the key ingredients to our success,” Becker states.

“I have worked with many brand owners during my career in this industry and have never encountered someone as dedicated. The fact that the brand owner gets as involved with accounts as Dmitry does—and as we merge into other markets, I know his energy will not diminish in the least—sets a high standard for our team."

The Wine Bank’s Paul Karcho (left) with Akvinta USA President Jeffrey Becker. PHOTO: AMY K. FELLOWS

Banking on Akvinta

Investing in top-shelf brands means Akvinta is “here to stay”

San Diego’s Wine Bank is a treasure-house of fine wine and spirits. “We find unusual and great products,” Paul Karcho, the store owner, imparts.  “We don’t sell the everyday brands here, and that’s what sets us apart from other brick-and-mortar stores."

When Karcho first sampled Akvinta, it was a slam dunk.  “There was no question in my mind that this was a vodka that is here to stay. The brand is magnificent, the packaging classic and the people supporting the brand further separate it from the rest."






THE TASTING PANEL, 6345 Balboa Blvd, Ste. 111, Encino, CA 91316
Content ©2016 THE TASTING PANEL magazine. All rights reserved