Food & Drink

Tito's Vodka Owner is One of the Richest People in America

A general view of the atmosphere at Kiehl's x Makos Exhibit and Auction for OCRF at Kiehl's on Robertson on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision for Kiehl's/AP Images)

According to Forbes, Texas' own Tito's Handmade Vodka brand is worth $2.5 billion. That makes the company's aptly named founder, Tito Beveridge, one of the richest people in America.

It's not surprising to anyone who's sampled the crisp and clean vodka, which sells like hotcakes in the bars and liquor stores. In 2017, it even beat other huge spirits like Grey Goose and Jack Daniels for the top-selling spirit brand in the entire country, bringing in a whopping $148 million that year.

For a guy who got his start giving homemade flavored vodka as Christmas presents, Beveridge has come a long way. The University of Texas alumn launched Tito's vodka in Austin, Texas in 1997. At the time, the common perception was that it was illegal to distill liquor in the state of Texas. However, Tito learned the letter of the law and went head-to-head with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. He proved there was no statute, either state or federal, prohibiting it and earned his distillery license. Tito's is now the oldest legal distillery in the Lone Star State.

Read More: 13 Texas Liquors and Cocktails You Need to Try

"I'd go out and make it and sell it and come back and make some more and you know I was sleeping next to the still and you know just kind of boot-strapped it up," Beveridge says on the Tito's website.

The beloved vodka (which is gluten-free) is still distilled in old fashioned pot stills and every batch is taste tested to ensure it's perfect enough to hit the shelves. It's a process similar to fine single malt scotches and high-end French cognacs. But it wasn't an easy road to the top. The entrepreneur racked up nearly $90,000 in debt on 19 credit cards before he finally found success. In 2001 he won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and everything changed.

There's no doubt that Beveridge struck gold with his vodka. The brand was built upon word of mouth marketing and to this day, he's never invested in any tv advertising. If that doesn't tell you the product speaks for itself I don't know what does.

This post was originally published in 2017.

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Tito's Vodka Owner is One of the Richest People in America