By VERONICA REINER
The LCBO is now selling black vodka, a unique spin on the popular alcoholic spirit. It is produced by a Waterloo-based company known as Hounds Vodka. The drink was put on shelves in October.
“The LCBO release their product needs for the year,” said Michael Kingna, an agent for the LCBO and supplier for the black vodka product within Ontario. “In order to get your product sold, you must go through an application process and meet those needs.”
Andrew Kirby, a Conestoga College graduate and president of Hounds Vodka, said he decided to try his luck and put his unique drink idea on the market.
“Because our vodka is so unique and unlike what anyone has ever done, we had to clear our liquid with Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency through chemical analysis,” said Kirby.
These regulatory hurdles were necessary in order to make black vodka available to the public. The process took approximately four years. “We overcame them with hard work and being persistent with the government,” said Kirby.
“The LCBO releases approximately six or seven new products every week,” said Kingna. “The vintages division of the LCBO releases an upwards of 100 products every two weeks.” So with new products being released so frequently, why did the process for Kirby take four years?
Because this Hounds Vodka is made of ingredients that have not been tried before, the process took much longer than usual. “It really took having a unique product and really the ability to sell ourselves and the product to the LCBO,” Kirby said.
So what makes this vodka unique? Kirby said the innovative ingredients that give it its unique colour include Fulvic and humic trace minerals.
“Our vodka tastes like vodka but much smoother and has a velvety mouth feel.” There are hints of vanilla and citrus in the drink.
“There was a product somewhat like it,” said Kingna. “It was a coloured vodka. There have been other coloured vodkas sold in the LCBO before, but this product is really unique because it is made up of different compounds.”
It is these compounds that affect the colour of the vodka. It is not simply coloured with dye just for fun.
Several signature cocktail recipes created by mixologists are available on the Hounds Vodka website, including The Silhouette, Black Basil, Northern Eclipse and Black Tuxedo. Anyone with an idea for a cocktail recipe is encouraged to share it on the website.
Kirby’s advice to anyone hoping to start their own company: “Find something in either a product or service where there is a need. Find something before anyone else and it will give you a big competitive advantage. From there, it’s hard work and perseverance.”