Pinnacle Vodka, the elegant French spirit distilled in France and flavored in the United States has seen an incredible surge in popularity and sales over the past decade or so. There's no denying the superiority of its quality, and certainly those who know their spirits recognize the meteoric rise after Pinnacle Whipped hit the market. Part of a long chain of respected and delicious spirits now distributed by one of the largest companies in the world, the brand is in excellent company. It's serious Vodka with a consumer friendly side.
1. Only the finest spring water and Winter Wheat from France are included in Pinnacle.
The French spring water is sources from the Charente Region. That’s where the water filters naturally through limestone. The limestone removes impurities from the water. The French Winter Wheat is whole-grain and is sourced from Brie in the north of France where the clay, limestone, and rich soil combine to create perfect conditions for harvesting the wheat. Pinnacle believes in sourcing only the highest quality ingredients so that their vodka is exceptional.
2. The vodka is distilled five times.
Once the spring water and Winter Wheat is sourced, these ingredients are taken to “Spirit Valley” in the heart of the Cognac Region in France. The Pinnacle distillers are craftsmen who are experienced and passionate about their work, and their goal is to create the exceptional smoothness and balance which distinguishes the brand. It takes extra time and energy, but they believe the resulting quality is well worth their efforts.
3. Pinnacle Vodka was acquired by Beam Inc. in 2012.
Beam Inc. is known for its iconic Jim Beam Bourbon which traces its history back to 1795 when Jacob Beam sold his first bottle of whisky. Fred Noe, seventh generation Beam master distiller still oversees production of the flagship whisky brand. But, Beam Inc. became Beam Suntory in 2014 when it was acquired by the legendary Japanese whiskey brand. Due to Beam’s extensive acquisitions of multiple international spirits brands over the years the Beam Suntory merger resulted in the new company becoming the third largest premium spirits company in the world. Pinnacle Vodka was already the fastest growing vodka brand in the world when it was acquired by Beam Inc. for $600 million in 2012.
4. Pinnacle Vodka is available in more than 30 flavors.
Vodka is considered a neutral spirit. That means its subtle flavor makes it well-suited to blending with other beverages to fortify them. It also can be blended with flavors on its own. In the past, Sherry producers in Spain used Vodka to fortify wines. The 19th century was the time when high-proof Russian Vodka was particularly esteemed. Also popular were flavored Vodkas because the first flavors distilled were somewhat primitive. Eventually, adding flavors to Vodka became the mark of a skilled distiller. Pinnacle is distilled in France and exported to the United States. The Vodka is flavored in the U.S. and bottled for distribution worldwide.
5. Paul Coulombe, founder of Pinnacle Vodka, took out an $85 million loan to buy White Rock Distilleries and move his entire family out of the company.
At the time, he had zero net worth. It was 2005, and he just asked his workers in Lewiston to put their trust in him. He’d just fired all the managers and his employees were nervous. Within 7 years, Pinnacle and his other successful brands, Calico Jack rum and Three Olives vodka had brought in a fortune. Coulombe sold the company to Beam Inc. for $605 million. After that, Coulombe moved to Boothbay, Maine to take his mega-millions and try to completely renovate the town.
6. By 2017, Paul Coulombe had parlayed his millions into development plans for Boothbay Harbor, but without 100% support.
He decided to withdraw his development plans, though he still owns several commercial properties and his own home in the area. He has invested more than $150 million to convert a lighthouse into an inn, and poured money into five B&Bs, two gold resorts, but other proposals he has pulled. The long-time residents were not all fond of Pinnacle Whipped or Coulombe’s famous flavored vodkas. The overnight success brands weren’t completed respected in Boothbay, and reporters weren’t kind when referencing them. Though Pinnacle Vodka brought superior success to Coulombe, it hasn’t always been welcomed in Boothbay.
7. In the middle of the 2010 recession, Pinnacle Vodka had grown about 25% since 2009.
Coulombe told Wine & Spirits Daily that Pinnacle was the number one brand at White Rock Distilleries. At the time, a 1.75-liter bottle was priced between $19.99 and $22.99. He believed that the product, price and its promotion contributed to its success. He viewed Pinnacle as an easy to remember name, and the blue bottle as an eye-catcher. He also noted that the flavored blends such as strawberry kiwi, citrus, cherry and grape were the most popular.
8. Pinnacle Whipped sold 750,000 cases in 2011 in the United States.
Pinnacle’s other flavors pushed the total to about 1 million cases, and then almost doubled to about 2.7 million cases. The top-selling flavored vodka was given a 2012 advertising campaign budget of $7 million to target females in the 21 to 35-year age range. The advertising spots ran on cable networks including E!, InStyle, Bravo, Oxygen and more. Pinnacle had its first TV ads ever that year.
9. Pinnacle has won more awards than any other French Vodka.
The Beverage Tasting Institute has awarded Pinnacle the Gold Award in 2007, 2008, and 2010. The institute rates spirits, beers and wines and doesn’t accept advertising from the companies who produce the products it reviews. Numerical scores are awarded for test results, with ratings ranging from 96 to 100 for the superlative rating and 80 and below for the not recommended rating. Tasting is done in a Chicago tasting laboratory. Judges included on the tasting panel are professional guest tasters who work as restaurateurs, retailers, or prominent writers. Pinnacle also was awarded the Charles Schwab Impact Hot Brand Award in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Pinnacles flavored vodkas have won The Fifty Best Double Gold for three flavors and Gold for two flavors in 2011. Pinnacle Whipped won the New Hampshire 2010 Product of the Year Liquor Commission.
10. The Cocktail Project features more than 600 recipes.
The Pinnacle website offers plenty of new recipes which explore, celebrate and demystify cocktails. The cocktail is viewed as a work of art with Pinnacle. The nice thing is that there are resources available like the Tips and Tricks section, which features articles and videos with information to let you know how to serve the best cocktails. Start out learning 100 must-know cocktail terms. Set up your own home bar with the right glassware and tools. Practice your cocktail-making skills with the right techniques and find the drinks which match different gatherings such as cookouts, brunch, a backyard party, or cocktails to match the changing seasons. Memorize ten cocktails which are easy to make so that you can do your best job as the host.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker