by Chris Austin, AAI, F.A. Peabody Insurance

If you have ever written a business plan in college, you know that eventually the plan is soon forgotten and ends up collecting dust somewhere on a shelf. Upon entering the “real world”, you get a dose of reality and realize that the plan would never work, right? Wrong. When Scott Galbiati and Jessica Jewell were attending Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Scott was required to write a business plan for one of his classes. At that time, Jessica and Scott were dating and they discussed where to go with the paper. Jessica, being brought up on an Aroostook County potato farm, thought finding a niche product for potatoes would be an excellent direction to move with the plan. This planted the seed for what would later become Twenty 2 Vodka. After graduation and marriage, Scott and Jessica began to grow that seed into what is now Twenty 2 Vodka.

Twenty 2 Vodka was born in 2009. As with any new business, the early years have periods of trial and error. They quickly found that potatoes were not offering the flavor Jessica and Scott were searching for and they soon turned to corn as the substitute for potatoes. Our philosophy on Vodka is that “the taste should quickly blend away and disappear,” stated Jessica. “The Vodka should be smooth and neutral.” Unlike other liquors, Vodka is produced to take on the taste of other ingredient(s) in the drink. In the current market, Vodka accounts for 1/3 of all U. S. liquor sales, followed by whiskey.

Twenty 2 Vodka is a premium vodka and Scott and Jessica are determined to maintain the highest standards. Twenty 2 offers three distinct proofs; 80, 150 and 160. In Maine, 160 proof cannot be sold retail but may only be sold on premises of bars, taverns and restaurants as an infusion product only. Infusion is the process of letting the vodka steep with an organic substance to impart the flavor into the vodka. The higher the proof; the quicker the infusion. Twenty 2 is capitalizing on that trend by creating six infused flavors to be sold retail as an 80 proof product: black pepper, coffee bean, citrus, vanilla, cinnamon and chipotle pepper. To ensure quality, Twenty 2 Vodka only uses natural ingredients in the infusion process.

What differentiates Twenty 2 Vodka from competitors is their closely guarded distillation process and quality control including taste tests. The taste tests compares the current batch to a previous batch of Twenty 2 and two premium competitors. If the stringent standards are not met, then it’s not shipped. Twenty 2 Vodka, being a micro distiller, is purposely made in smaller vats and uses only Maine water. The ‘proof is in the proof’! Since its inception, just six years ago, Twenty 2 Vodka is the most awarded vodka made in the United States. This includes the SIP competition where they have won back to back platinum awards as well as gold and San Francisco World spirits competition which is considered the Olympics of competition in the liquor industry.

Together, Scott and Jessica’s individual skills combine to create a synergy that makes for a winning business venture. Scott’s degree in product design and his interpersonal skills make a great fit for the sales and marketing end of the enterprise. Jessica has a degree in chemical engineering and is detail oriented which serves the business well for product development and quality control as well as record keeping. The business continues to grow and the future looks very bright as their dream continues to develop and unfold.

Chris Austin is the Agent for Twenty 2 Vodka. Chris handles the full spectrum of commercial insurance specializing in manufacturing, retail and transportation.