Retired battalion chief starts new vodka venture

Retired battalion chief starts new vodka venture
Kim Blaylock (left) holds a bottle of Venom Vodka with his wife, Michele. Their vodka received an appreciation award from the Coeur de Cuisine fundraiser in Escondido. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene

CARLSBAD — Retired Carlsbad Fire Department battalion chief, Kim Blaylock, may have closed the door to one career but is having a great time opening another.Blaylock recently launched his Carlsbad-based business called Venom Vodka.Having no prior experience whatsoever in the spirits industry, Blaylock dove into the project with a mountain of research and a long “to-do” list, and after four years, he finally unscrewed his first official ultra-premium Venom Vodka bottle last December.

Blaylock retired from the fire department nearly six years ago and said he wasn’t thinking of this career nearing his retirement at the fire department. In fact, the idea popped up on a get-a-way to Big River, Calif., with his family and friends a couple of years later.

“We were all having coffee one morning and we were talking about how we should make energy drinks but decided that the market was flooded with them,” Blaylock said. The early morning brainstorming then went on to tequila, and then, vodka.

Blaylock’s business partner, Mark Miceli, a veteran firefighter based in Seattle, Wash., thought of the name, Venom Vodka. Miceli logged onto his iPhone to see if the domain name was taken — it wasn’t. Seconds later, they bought it.

Blaylock said they both looked at each other and asked, “Now what do we do because we know nothing about vodka?” But that was about to change.

Soon after, the men went to a Boston workshop to learn how to make it. They studied everything from grains, ryes, yeast, enzymes, to fruits and so much more.

They did agree on one thing: To keep the investment dollars on the smaller scale they would not purchase their own vodka stiller. Instead, they’d find someone to do the distilling for them.

They found the perfect match in Bend, Ore., called Bend Spirits. The company helps people make their own liquor while making their own spirit inventory, as well.

Blaylock called it the perfect relationship because the owner knew how to make vodka, was an expert, and walked them through all the licensing steps.

Blaylock’s wife Michele also became part of the vodka endeavor and holds the position of chief financial officer.
“Michele keeps us in line,” Blaylock said.

The Blaylocks’ pointed out that there was a lot of tasting in the process to decide what type of smoothness they wanted Venom Vodka to have. After liking the distiller’s vodka, they knew they were in the right hands.

“We relied a lot on the distiller to guide us,” Michele said.

In addition to a sleek, elegant bottle design, the Venom Vodka gang knew they wanted to offer customers a premium product. Not all vodkas are the same.

“Ours is on the upper premium side of vodkas,” said Blaylock, adding how the water they use is from Cascade Mountain spring water. “We also distill it five times and filter it six times.”

The more vodka is distilled and filtered, the smoother the taste. Venom Vodka’s filtration, Blaylock said, is done through crushed lava rock, onyx and diamond to ensure first-rate quality.

Blaylock is thrilled in how so many local businesses have embraced Venom Vodka. To date, it’s in more than 30 locations, and that number continues to grow. Buyers can find the vodka in Carlsbad at Albertson’s, Country Wine & Spirits, Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Holiday Wine Cellars, Royal Palms Spirits, and Texas Wine & Spirits.

When it comes to dining with a cocktail, Venom Vodka is on the shelves at establishments such as Tommy V’s, Beach Club, Coyote Bar & Grill, Bistro West, Vigilucci’s and many more. And Venom Vodka continues to branch out to neighboring cities.

Although Blaylock is enjoying this new venture he still thinks about the fire department.

“I miss all the guys for sure and I miss running all the emergency calls,” he said. “I enjoyed going out, helping out the public and working as a team with police, fire, and the public agencies.”

As a tribute to the fire department, proceeds from the purchase of each bottle of Venom Vodka sold will go towards a charity benefiting firefighters; that promise is emblazed on the bottle.

“At the end of the year we’ll figure out if it’s a percentage or dollar amount,” Blaylock said. “We just want to give back to the fire service.”

To learn more about Venom Vodka visit venomvodka.com.

The Venom Drop, by Mixologist Kim Blaylock:

Ingredients:
1.5 oz of Venom Vodka
2 oz of Pear Juice
A splash of Cointreau
A Splash of Sweetened Lime Juice

Preparation:
1) Fill shakers with ice and shake vigorously.
2) (Optional) Garnish rim of martini glass with granulated sugar
3) Pour in chilled martini glass.
4) Serve and Enjoy!

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