Q&A with Milano Green Vodka
Kristen Oliveri of Pasta’s Kitchen sits down with Vik Shetty, CEO and Founding Partner of Milano Green Vodka to speak about their product, how it is made gluten free and how the company is shaking things up when it comes to sustainability in the spirits industry
Q: When was the brand launched and what was the impetus behind it?
A: Milano Green was formally launched in New York in the summer of 2012, soon after our initial trials where we were awarded the gold medal at the San Francisco Spirts Competition and also beat some of the largest brands in the segment at the New York Ultimate Spirits challenge with a 91 point rating. (Belvedere scored 87, Absolut Elyx 84).
Other than the Italian craftsmanship, the impetus was to introduce a specialty vodka to a segment that is mired in synonymy and to create something that had its own natural flavor created using the world’s finest ingredients, and reducing the amount of processing required to create a world class spirit. It truly is from the heart of Italy and for the love of Vodka.
Q: This is a family-run brand. Can you speak about the background of the family and who’s running the company today?
A: The brand is curated and crafted by an Italian family of viticulturists who have been in the wine and spirits business for the last 175 years. The eye for detail and quality is apparent in every sip.
The brand and company, however, is run by the Milano Green management team. We are spread across Milan, New York and LA and oversee the day to day management.
Q: What makes Milano Green unique in terms of flavor profile? How does it stack up against other popular vodka brands?
A: Milano Green is built on three uncompromising principles that are instilled in every step of its creation: Individuality of flavor, ingredient quality, and integrity of the production and promotion process.
With its flawless crystalline appearance, Milano Green has a distinct bold flavor profile with hints of licorice and grainy wheat cereal. That medley is followed by an exceptionally sleek and smooth finish with a silky texture on the palate.
Most premium vodkas today go through excessive processing, neutering the spirit and leaving it void of any character. Milano Green fills that void with a vodka that has character and an exceptionally smooth finish. Milano Green uses water sourced from the Italian Alps and is always unfiltered, cos we simply wouldn’t want to take anything away.
Q: Why do you focus on the green/sustainability aspect of the vodka?
A: Aside from environmental sustainability being an important element to the founders of the brand, the preservation of a lot of our ingredient sources depends on a sustainable future. This theme will continue to grow and improve with the brand.
Q: What are some of the sustainable practices that go into production?
A: Integrity of the process, as we mentioned earlier, has been one of our guiding principles. Ingredients are sourced only from select producers who use sustainable practices. Our distillation process uses half the amount of energy the mainstream brands use through pressure manipulation and we are a zero waste facility. Our packaging is made from recycled material, and the design on the bottle is free of any lead or chemicals. Instead, we use crushed glass from the original bottle infused with natural minerals to provide the different colors which then gets fused back onto the bottle. A lot of our promotions for the brand are also centered around sustainable initiatives.
Q: Is your product gluten-free? If so, how is it certified?
A: Milano Green is Gluten and Allergen free. This has been declared by certified entities in the European Union, and also by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Allergy Research and Resource Program in the US.
The test commonly used for this is an enzyme immunology for the quantitative analysis of contaminations by prolamins from wheat, rye barley and flour.
Q: What is your favorite cocktail to make with Milano?
A: Milano Green’s viscosity makes it blend exceptionally well with other mixers, however a cocktail that allows Milano Green to truly expose itself in all its splendor would be a Martini. There is simply nothing to hide behind. The Milano Green ‘Venetian Summer’ which is a spin on the infamous Bellini created at the Cipriani in Venice is also a crowd favorite.
Q: Where can we find the brand locally in NYC? Nationally?
A: Milano Green is available in a number of specialty cocktail bars around New York City as well as fine dining restaurants. Il Mulino, Cipriani, Serafina, Taboon, Tallulah and Botanic Lab are a few of the many great places that stock us.
We are also featured in a number of stores that cater to customers looking for artisan products.
We are currently available in New York and are in conversations with distributors to expand the brand’s footprint across the country. We routinely run promotions or feature our retail partners on our fan page, so please do follow us on www.facebook.com/milanogreenvodka for regular updates.
Q: What’s next for Milano Green?
A: We’re just getting warmed up, so you can expect to see a lot of us. Increasing our distribution in other states and overall consumer awareness are two of our main priorities over the next 12-18 months. We believe that a potent combination of online promotions and creative experiential marketing is the key to acquiring a larger following of, as we like to call them, “vodkasnobs.”
Although the distribution landscape in the US is unfavorable to small brands and vying for consumer attention is an ever-present challenge, we’ll get there, one #Vodkasnob at a time.