In 2008, InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, creating ABInBev, now the world's largest brewer.
Of course, you know that! The story dominated the news for a large chunk of that summer. (And how can you stop listening after seeing/hearing the word "beer" peppered through a news bite on a July afternoon in St. Louis?)
What you might not know, though, is that as a result of the merger, AB stopped distribution of all of the "nonbeer" beverages, selling off the rights to various distilled spirits. This included Purus Vodka, a then young brand of vodka that boasts of its quintuple distillation processes and environmentally friendly practices with excessive and endearing punnery ("Community at its Purus," "Italian Heritage at its Purus," etc.).
The brand now belongs to Pure Holdings LLC, whose president, John Giarrante, developed the product while working at Anheuser-Busch. He retained ownership of the brand and spearheaded its relaunch to the St. Louis market this past March; the vodka became readily available on St. Louis shelves in early June. This week, Pure Holdings announced its plans to expand distribution to Southern Illinois.
Giarrante explains, "We're trying to build a brand here in Missouri first -- create a 'hometown vodka,' if you will, but we would like to accomplish national distribution and be seen as a leading brand within the vodka category as well."
Paul Zemitzsch, a consultant to Pure Holdings, told Gut Check that the company has already developed plans to expand nationally within the next year: "Right now, it's available in St. Louis and Southern Illinois. It's going to be rapidly expanding to New Orleans and Phoenix and a number of other cities very soon. It should be completely national by 2012."
What's so special about Purus? Well, aside from being a hometown vodka and a brand that managed to survive the InBev purge, there's its aforementioned distillation process (it's distilled 5 times!) which Zemitzsch insists is responsible for its smoothness. It's also produced by a family in Italy from "100% organic Wheat" and "crystalline water from the Alps." Furthermore, the brand is eco-friendly, as the vodka comes in a recyclable bottle with a recyclable label that's printed with soy ink.
So, we'll pose the same question Ian asked in December: Has anyone tried Purus? If so, can you attest to its smoothness and sexy environmental-friendliness?