There’s are a couple of very simple reasons that the Reno Rodeo asked 7 Troughs Distilling Co. to develop vodka rather than bourbon.
Speed to market, for one.
“A brown spirit takes time,” says Scott Peterson, first vice president of the Reno Rodeo Association. “Vodka you can make in 12 days and sell the next week.”
The other reason? Brown-Forman Corp. is a big ol’ sponsor at the rodeo, and no one wants to offend the maker of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
Not that sales of the Reno Rodeo Legacy Vodka are likely to chew a big piece out of anyone’s liquor sales any time soon.
The vodka currently is available for sale only at 7 Troughs Distilling’s facility in Sparks, and buyers are limited to two bottles a month.
Still, the proceeds from the rodeo’s signature spirit are expected to jumpstart the association’s efforts to modernize the 1966-era grandstand at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
“This is the recurring revenue stream that we’ve been looking for,” says Peterson, who was inspired by the success of Pendleton Whiskey, a product of Oregon’s Hood River Distillery that benefits the Pendleton Round-Up.
The first 1,000 limited-edition bottles of Reno Rodeo Legacy Vodka are priced at $44.99, and regular bottles will retail for $34.99. Reno graphic designer William Letcher created the bottles.
Tom Adams, the president and distiller of 7 Troughs, says the company can produce 120 bottles of vodka at a time in its hand-crafted micro-batch process.
The deal with the Reno Rodeo Association, he says, builds production volume for 7 Troughs and helps build public awareness of the craft distilleries that came into existence around the region just a year ago.
Named after a Humboldt County mountain range, 7 Troughs is carving a niche for itself among craft distilleries through its use of 19th century methods. Along with the Reno Rodeo specialty vodka, the company distills and markets rum, its own branded vodka and un-aged moonshine.
The recipe for the Reno Rodeo Legacy Vodka was selected from nine possibilities in a blind-taste sampling, says Adams. It’s produced from Idaho sugar beets and a small amount of corn from Winnemucca-area farms.
“It’s a very technical spirit,” the distiller says. “It was truly trial and error. We screwed up a lot before we found one that we liked.”
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