Join SLTN and Tennent’s for Tito’s tasting

Brand development manager Clay Thomson to showcase premium vodka from Texas

SLTN and Tennent’s have joined forces to stage a special tasting of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Part of the SLTN Trade Tastings series, the virtual event – at 7pm on 16th August – will see brand development manager Clay Thomson host a tasting of Tito’s, covering everything from how the vodka is produced in Austin, Texas, to its role in cocktails and other serves.

Operators and bartenders from across the Scottish trade can sign up for the tasting here:

Ahead of the event, SLTN caught up with Clay for the lowdown on what the tasting will cover, his role and all things Tito’s vodka.

Q: Which drinks have you chosen for the SLTN Trade Tasting? 

A: We will be looking at the many creative ways you can consume Tito’s Handmade Vodka – a premium brand created and located in Austin, Texas. We’ll be sampling Tito’s neat/on the rocks; the Tito’s Hickoryback – a neat shooter chased with a hickory BBQ/pickle brine; Tito’s and Cola – Tito’s and Fever Tree Madagascan Cola garnished with fresh rosemary; Tito’s ‘n’ Tonic – Tito’s and Fever Tree Clementine Tonic with fresh mint and black pepper; and the Tito-rita – Tito’s, fresh lime, agave, sea salt, and pickled jalapeños optional! We are looking to reinvent the wheel on how premium vodka is received in the on-trade, and the ways in which it is served, in order to change perceptions of the spirit.

Q: What can bartenders expect from the virtual tasting?

A: A fair few puns and poor Aussie banter on my part, but also a wealth of unique info on distilling processes, key selling points, and of course quality booze and cocktail trivia!

Q: How do you think vodka will perform over the coming months?

A: Summer is always boom time for vodka serves and cocktails. Vodka works best with bright, citric flavour elements but given its adaptivity, can be matched into almost any classic serve. Vodka has been reappearing on shelves in a premium format as more and more local (and international) small-batch distilleries have come to see the value of having this spirit. It has been a bar mainstay since the late ’70s, and is definitely undergoing a premium revival.

Q: What are the main considerations for operators and bartenders when it comes to deciding which vodkas to stock?

A: Know your market! Without a solid understanding of which demographic your venue caters to, you will never know how to strike that balance between which brands you want to stock and which brands actually shift. Obviously price always factors into this, but the quality of a premium brand, pitched and served the correct way, can sell to any consumer who has even a mild interest.

Q: What do you think your company’s vodka portfolio offers?

A: Whilst we are still in the midst of fully establishing our spirit portfolio, we believe that our vodka brands offer unique base ingredients which cater to all dietary requirements, have cool brand histories, and, most importantly for the trade, affordable price points! Premium product at non-premium prices, as the old saying goes. We also believe that our brands imbue a fun-loving culture, as well as employing various good causes within their business models.

Q: How long have you worked in your role? 

A: I am brand spanking new to my current role, but I have worked in both the Scottish and Australian bar trades since 2008. My first role was a server at an upmarket pan-Japanese restaurant chain in Australia. They quickly moved me into the bar once I made myself more valuable to them there as I did not rate myself in running a section! I have since worked in five-star hotels, tiki joints, upmarket bar-restaurants and trendy cocktail dives before I moved into working in trade about three years ago.

Q: What’s the best bit of the job? 

A: Meeting the people in the on-trade! You won’t find a more colourful, hard-working, world-wise and humorous bunch of misfits in any other industry. I also enjoy educating people on not just unfamiliar products, but new and innovative ways to create and sell with products they may already be very familiar with.

Q: What’s your most memorable vodka and why?

A: I am a big fan of Tito’s for not just its smoothness and refined flavour (its corn-based mash ensures a natural sweetness, as well as being gluten-free and vegan-friendly), but also for the company culture – Austin, Texas artisanal premium vodka?  Who doesn’t think that is cool?

Q: If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be, what would you drink and where?

A: Sadly, it can never come to pass but I would have to say Anthony Bourdain, smashing back Caipiroskas and Martinis in Bar Hemingway in Prague. His stories would be great, plus he would have known all the good greasy late-night street food spots. Kristen Wiig could join as well, if she wants.