A Premium Rice-based Vodka Hits Stores in Hawaii

Marcus Bender
Marcus Bender
Dana Black
Dana Black

(KHNL) - A Honolulu beverage entrepeneur has created the world's first premium rice vodka and lychee flavored vodka. Marcus Bender calls it "Kai Vodka." He and Kai Vodka's Dana Black are here with more. I know you from Brew Moon, good to see you this morning, what is this all about?

MARCUS BENDER:  Well, we've been working on this project for about three years and I've developed the first rice-based vodka, that's made from yellow blossom rice that's grown in the North of Vietnam.

ANGELA:  And Dana what is your role in all of this?

DANA BLACK: I'm the President of Sales and Marketing so it's my job to get out there and introduce everyone to Kai Vodka and host promotions.

ANGELA:  How big is this for Hawaii?

MARCUS:  I think the category is big and it's big for us being able to launch this here in Hawaii and over the course of the U.S. It's about 10 billion dollar industry so we're looking to get a little piece of it.

ANGELA:  And vodka is "the thing" right now as far as aeromatic drinks,sort of speak

MARCUS:  Right and what we've learned over the course of doing our research is that women consume over 50% of it.

ANGELA:  Uh...hmm

MARCUS:  They like the taste of cocktails, vodka goes with everything in terms of mixing and so we have the first lychee flavored vodka which we think is fabulous so far the results have been very positive by the consumers.

ANGELA:  So is there anything special about the process with the rice and that sort of thing?

MARCUS: This is hand crafted in villages so that really makes it really different than most other products that come out of refineries and so it's really a unique product in terms of its beginnings and how we've process it and how we bottle it so it's very different.

ANGELA:   And now Dana, this is only available in Hawaii so far, am I right?

DANA: Yes, Marcus and I are both from Hawaii and we thought this was a great launch pad where East meets West just like our product, soon it will be in all states, hopefully.

ANGELA:  What are people saying to you when they sample it?

MARCUS:  It takes great, they love the packaging, which is actually designed to be very premium and gear towards women in terms of sort of a bottle of perfume appearance and so the packaing they love immediately first they see it, they taste it which is very different than other vodkas and the response has been very positive.

ANGELA:  Now is all vodkas made in this process, i know you said it's made in a village, I don't know much about vodka making but is rice always involved and is it the same process involved?

MARCUS:  That's what really separates us from all the other vodkas is the fact that we're using rice, a special rice verses most vodkas made from wheat and some are from potatoes and very few are made from grapes but we're the first rice-based vodka that also lends itself to this taste and the absorbtion of the flavor

ANGELA:  What kind of food do you eat this with?

MARCUS: Well, you can eat it with just about everything depending on what your tastes are.   It goes with fish obviously, we were in New York and some of the chefs we talked to want to cook with it.

ANGELA:  Ahhh, with desserts maybe?

MARCUS:   Desserts. We talked to Patricia Yeo,  she's an iron chef in New York City at a restaurant called Sapa and she can't wait to get her hands on this so she can start making some special dishes.

ANGELA:   I look forward to that.  I will definitely look forward to that. That sounds very interesting.   Thank you for joining us, we look forward to seeing this on the market soon and is it already available?

MARCUS: It is available we've been approved in many stores already.