Zodiac Vodka is handcrafted in the quiet town of Rigby, Idaho, along the majestic banks of the Snake River.
This vodka is produced through a process we trademarked as single-source distillation, made from beginning to end using spuds harvested from the area’s rich volcanic soil and with water from high in the Upper Tetons. Donovan Graves, vice president of sales for Zodiac Spirits, fills Chilled in on the vision behind Zodiac Vodka and the future of this world-class, farm-to-bottle spirit.
Talk to us about Zodiac Vodka. What sets this vodka apart on the market today?
For us, it starts with russet potatoes from Southeastern Idaho. Less than 2% of vodkas on the market today are made from potato. It takes nine pounds of potatoes to make one bottle of Zodiac vodka—it’s expensive, but we feel it is worth it. To us, using the highest-quality agriculture and controlling the process from farm to bottle is the footprint of our brand’s DNA. The ability to control all aspects of ingredients and distillation from start to finish provides consistency and quality, which sets us apart from other vodkas.
People are more cognizant of what they are putting in their bodies today, and we take pride in producing the highest-quality, all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free spirits possible, with no artificial flavorings or sugars added. While producing exceptional spirits, the distillery is also committed to sustainability and operating with an eco-friendly mindset as a “Visionary Member” of the Rocky Mountain Power wind program, while all fermentation and distillation by-products are recycled.
Talk to us about the inspiration and history behind the brand.
The vision behind Zodiac led to the development of a brand ahead of its time in a category we know today as craft spirits. From day one, Zodiac has produced world-class spirits farm to bottle—nothing has changed in the formulation or production process outside of upgrades to provide efficiencies in production. Zodiac was originally introduced in 1999 across Michigan and Texas by our founder, Tom Benson, with a vision to deliver the best quality American-made vodka to consumers while using the highest-quality agriculture to do so.
Up until 2015, the brand had limited distribution—mostly in Texas and Michigan. Zodiac Spirits, LLC was formed in 2014 to support a brand relaunch that included new package design, total brand repositioning, and strategic marketing partnerships. The distillery sits just down the road from Idaho Falls in the small town of Rigby, a little-known stargazer’s paradise among a vast landscape of potato and wheat fields. Sitting outside the distillery on a clear evening under the stars, it feels as if you are among the ring of constellations that make up the Zodiac. Considering everyone identifies with their Zodiac sign, it felt like a natural fit.
Zodiac is made by single-source distillation. How important is it to the brand to be locally crafted?
In net, single-source distillation means we make what we sell, farm-to-bottle. This is important for a number of reasons, beginning with agriculture and authenticity. We start with our regionally grown potatoes, produced in Southeastern Idaho where the distillery is located. This region produces the finest potatoes in the world. The mashing and fermentation all take place at the distillery, as does the distillation, filtration, and blending with water drawn from the Snake River Aquifer, which runs beneath the distillery. As a result of this process Zodiac is distilled and filtered only once then bottled onsite. We like to say we get it right the first time. Controlling the raw ingredients also allows Zodiac to limit production runs—truly small batch. Truly craft.
The craft movement is booming in the United States, Where do you see this movement headed?
That’s what’s so exciting about the craft movement: You never know where it’s headed next. There is so much creativity and passion behind the movement, from producers and mixologists alike, often collaborating to take us off the beaten path, surprising us with what will be tomorrow’s latest trend. I was shocked to hear the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage was mead, with distilleries, breweries, and wineries opening at a feverish pace, although on a very small base. It reminded me of the same talk around craft and artisanal distilleries, as the spirits industry began to capitalize on the movement that was being driven by craft beer at the time.
What would you like bartenders to know about Zodiac?
The quality and versatility of Zodiac Vodka stands out as a result of our commitment to using the highest-quality local resources. While the quality of the vodka lends itself to being enjoyed straight up, on the rocks, or with a splash of soda, the versatility of the vodka integrates superbly within today’s array of creative cocktails.