After our article on fusion vodkas on Wednesday, there has been a lot of excitement. The comments started coming through thick and fast as did the emails and Twitter messages. There were of course, positive and negative responses, but I did promise to post any responses from the brands that I got. Here are the answers from Gecko Vodka to the questions I asked:
1. Who is the brain behind Gecko?
Gecko and the concept of Caramel Vodka was first conceived by Francisco Javier Fernandez Vega. Javier started his own small multi-brand distribution company in the early 1990’s but after realizing that margins in the industry were shrinking due to the merging of numerous larger distributors, he had the idea of creating his own brand of beverages that could be marketed without relying on anyone. The flagship product was to be the Caramel Vodka stemming from the fact that in Spain, people like to experience liqueurs but not necessarily the alcoholic taste associated with them.
Vodka was chosen as to establish a Rum or Whiskey in the market would be difficult due to the fact that the majority of consumers order their rum or whiskey by brand. This is not the case with vodka. He started to mix drinks using different flavors of caramel, then went out and started to ask local people to sample it. With this start he then went to a mixologist in Barcelona to develop the idea further. He made a batch of 10 bottles all with slightly different strengths of flavor and viscidity and set up a sampling session in a local hotel. Batch number 7 was by far the most popular! Once the formula was decided upon and the feedback was good everything was in line to go ahead with the new Caramel Flavoured Vodka!
2. Caramel & Choc Vodka. Where did the idea come from?
As mentioned previously, the idea came from the fact that while Spanish consumers do like their alcoholic content to be quite high, they don’t necessarily like their liqueurs to have an overpowering alcoholic taste. A Chocolate Vodka was the natural successor to the Caramel flavor.
3. Such a unique bottle. Whose idea was that and where did you find it?
The bottle was chosen especially for our Caramel Vodka and subsequent brand primarily because it is a Quick-Chill bottle. Let me explain, our product is best served Ice-Cold, the aluminum bottle allows the consumer to pop it straight into the freezer, where it chills quickly and doesn’t carry the risk of glass cracking, which is essential in the heat of the Spanish sun. Also, it differentiates us as a brand in general given that the majority of Vodkas are presented in glass bottles.
4. How long did it take you to develop?
In a way Gecko Caramel Vodka was 14 years in the making with the first batch available in 2006. Javier’s experience in the distribution of beverages alerted him to the fact that there was a niche that could be filled with an outstanding liqueur product.
5. There are a lot of copy cats popping up. Who was the original?
Gecko are the original both in terms of our Caramel Vodka and the silver Quick-Chill bottle. However it is natural that when a product is as popular and as good as that which we produce imitations will pop up; it has even occurred in Spain. However in taste tests with competitors the quality and craftsmanship of our Caramel Vodka really comes to the fore due to the high quality of our base vodka and the unique process through which it is infused with a Caramel flavor. We know customers are smart and won’t be hoodwinked by inferior ingredients and we know our customers appreciate the time, expertise and love we put into making each and every batch.
Also having imitators in South Africa is not necessarily a bad thing. As the business strategist Carol Roth says “Being the first to do something in a market sucks! And you know why? Because you have to educate consumers and that is expensive. Educating consumers about a new product or service takes, effort, time and a boatload of cash. In fact, sometimes the better strategy is to be a second or third mover in a space – let someone else spend the Benjamins to educate the public. Then, you can figure out how to do it smarter, faster or better.”
6. Is it produced and bottled in Spain?
Yes the product is produced and bottled in Gelida just outside of Barcelona. However we use cocoa beans from Madagascar in our Chocolate Vodka and various other ingredients from around the world in our products which adds a nice global feel to what we produce.
7. Any ideas for more flavours in future?
Well we have quite a range of flavours as it stands at the moment. We base all our products on our 40% abv Ultra-Premium Nordic Vodka which is also a stand-alone product comparable in quality to Grey Goose. This incredibly smooth and distinct vodka is made from wheat and goes through a secret triple distillation process that has been perfected to achieve the exact balance between purity and taste. Our refreshing Apple Vodka is becoming increasing popular in Europe as is our Chocolate and Mixed Berry Vodka. Our Caramel Vodka is in demand worldwide and should be widely available for purchase in South Africa quite soon. We also have a beautiful product called Gecko Pop, which is a 12% abv cherry amaretto, delicious for hot evenings over ice. To top it all off we have an energy drink which tastes similar to Red Bull…except better 😉
8. Which of the flavours is your favourite?
Nothing can possibly beat the drink that started this whole journey, the Original Gecko Caramel Vodka served ice-cold straight from the fridge…yum!
There you have it, answers from “The Original”.
Just so you know, we don’t get paid for any of the articles we post here, but Gecko have promised us a bottle of their Caramel Twovodk, so we have planned a little blind comparative tasting for when it gets here. We’ll let you know what we think.