Wednesday, March 5, 2008
360 Vodka: A Very EcoFriendly Alcohol
Many people are concerned about the environment and seeking "green" products. Climate change is a hot topic and many are trying ways to reduce their carbon footprint. My friends over at Catavino recently attended a Climate Change and Wine Conference and their posts sparked some interesting discussion on these topics.
There is plenty of talk about "green" wines, of organic and biodynamic wines. But you see much less about other green practices used by wine makers. So what is the greenest wine, or other alcohol? And how do you judge what is greenest? Though that might be hard to determine, I think I have found a potential contender for the top spot. And it is not even a wine.
This contender is 360 Vodka and it is made in the U.S. I feel it is a top contender because its ecofriendly practices seem the most extensive that I have ever seen for any such product. Their green practices extend to all aspects of their business, from production to marketing and sales.
McCormick Distilling Co. Inc., located in Weston, Missouric, has been around since 1856 and is the oldest continuously operated distillery in the U.S. It recently created a new division, Earth Friendly Distilling Company, to produce their new product, 360 Vodka. This division is dedicated to a philosophy of eco-awareness and corporate responsibility.
They use 100% locally grown grains from northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri, which helps reduce emissions from transportation. The vodka is quadrupled distilled and five times filtered in an energy efficient way so that none of the grain goes to waste. Their production facility captures the carbon dioxide produced by distillation and they use 200% less energy than the common pot still method. They offset 100% of their electricty through Renewable Energy Credits.
Their ecofriendly ways extend to the packaging. Their bottles are made from 85% recycled glass to their labels and paper are made from chlorine free, recycled paper. Even the peanuts used in their packaging are 100% biodegradeable and dissolve in water. If you return the bottle closure (and they give you a handy envelope to do so), they donate $1 to environmental organizations.
They have even begun using hybrid and biodiesel trucks to transport their products in three states.
I should note that the carbon footprint from the transportation of wine and other alcohols can be high. For more information, check out Dr. Vino's research findings in that area. Thus, enacting ways to reduce the transportation carbon footprint are very important.
You can read much more about their "green" ways on their website. There are many more things that they do than the few I mentioned. The entire matter certainly impressed me and I think it helps create a high standard for other companies seeking to make a greener product.
But then comes an important test. How does 360 Vodka taste? How does it compare to other premium vodkas on the market?
This raises some additional questions and issues.
1) Would you buy this vodka because it is so ecofriendly, even if you felt the quality of the vodka was not as good as a less eco-friendly bottle, the price being equal?
2) Would you buy this ecofriendly vodka if it tasted the same as other premium vodkas, but was more expensive? If so, how much more money would you be willing to pay?
3) How much does the fact the vodka is ecofriendly factor into you purchasing decision?
Well, I did taste this vodka. I kept it in my freezer for a time so that it would be properly cold for me. I prefer my premium vodka ice-cold, either straight up or on the rocks. I won't mix a premium vodka with anything. I would rather use a lesser quality vodka if I am mixing. And how did I feel about the 360 Vodka?
I was very impressed with its taste. It is very clean and smooth with absolutely no bite or bad aftertaste. It definitely has its own unique flavor, making it a different taste than some other premium vodkas. Though its flavors are mild and elusive, hard to definitively identify. It makes for an excellent vodka and something I would definitely drink. And I am very picky with my vodka.
The 360 Vodka retails for about $25-30, which makes it comparable to most other premium vodkas. Taste wise, it is at the very least, the equal of other premium vodkas. And better than some, such as Grey Goose. So, the fact that it is a very ecofriendly company does seem to tip the scales in its favor, everything else being roughly equal. So, I would definitely recommend 360 Vodka. I have seen it in a number of local liquor stores so it should be easy to find.