Is Trump Making Vodka Not-So-Great Again, Or What?
With the allegations that President Trump holds many conflicts of interest in his presidency, the reappearance of a thought-to-be defunct Trump-brand vodka suggests that someone might still be profiting off of the product. A Washington Post correspondent tweeted this picture on Friday showing that the product was still being sold in Israel.
— Ruth Marks Eglash (@reglash) July 6, 2018
Another Washington Post reporter tweeted another image showing that there was now a blueberry flavor.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) July 6, 2018
Pointing to a blueberry flavor would suggest that Trump-brand vodka might have started spinning out new flavors. David Fahrenthold wondered in another tweet whether those bottles had been on the shelves since 2015?
“Trump Drinks Israel LLC, the Trump Org arm that handled Trump Vodka’s sales in Israel, hasn’t reported revenue since 2015. Have these bottles been in the shelf since then?”
History of Trump Brand Vodka
Trump-brand vodka was launched in 2005 and produced for seven years before US production ceased in 2011. As with many of Trump brand failures, the brand didn’t meet certain standards. With Trump-brand vodka, it apparently didn’t meet the supply threshold required for distribution. At the time, Donald Trump predicted that his brand would outsell Grey Goose vodka which is still considered premium quality top-shelf liquor.
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Other reasons cited for the brand’s failure were due to Donald Trump not being a drinker as well as the glass and the gold band labeling being too expensive to mass produce.
Many failed Trump-brand products have continued to hold a second life in litigation. Lawsuits were brought on by many people who were involved or employed to maintain, manage or produce those products. One well-known example is with Trump University which was sued for engaging in illegal business practices. Trump Steaks was also another failure which was to be sold through Sharper Image. The brand only lasted for two months. The Sharper Image CEO Jerry Levin said that he would be surprised if they had sold any steaks at all.
“The net of all that was we literally sold almost no steaks. If we sold $50,000 of steaks grand total, I’d be surprised.”
Trump-brand vodka encountered similar issues with the beverage distribution company Drinks Americas LLC. When Drinks Americas LLC CEO J. Patrick Kenny first created Trump vodka, his company was listed in penny stock trade sheets, with no distillery and not filing reports to SEC regulators on time. Trump made the deal with Kenny anyway and negotiated for half of the product’s profits. By 2011, the company was sued by Bruni Glass over unpaid bills while the Trump organization sued over unpaid royalties.
A history of Trump -brand vodka details some of the similar kind of controversy and scandals that the world has become familiar with under a Trump presidency today. For instance, the Trump organization’s impulse to deny something when they’re caught was apparent then. This is because, during a promotional party for the vodka, an image of a topless young woman with the drink’s logo on her chest was being passed in 2008.
When it was learned that the young woman was 17-years-old, a representative for the Trump organization claimed that they were appalled. In order to gain some distance from the issue, the representative blamed the girl rather than take any responsibility saying:
“Given the circumstances, we can only guess that she crashed the event to seek publicity.”
Those promotional events also included the kinds of characters that we’re seeing now, such as Kim Kardashian and porn star Stormy Daniels. Kardashian met with President Trump in May to ask for a pardon of a low-level drug offender in prison. Stormy Daniels is currently involved in a legal dispute and a sexual scandal with the President that many believe will lead to Trump’s removal from office.
Trump Vodka goes to Russia
It also appears that Trump’s association with Russia is included in the vodka’s history. In 2007, Drinks Americas announced that they were going to expand their distribution of vodka to Russia. This would add another link to the Trump organization’s association with the region. Members of the Trump campaign team as well as the President himself are currently under investigation for possibly colluding with Russian officials which could lead to charges and even impeachment.
Here is an ad for Trump vodka that ran for the Russian market.
Drinks Americas would later announce that they were moving bottle production to China from Europe and that they would be cutting costs. The Trump administration has launched a trade war with China, going after the country for what they refer to as unfair trade practices. None of these things, of course, ostensibly have anything to do with the vodka but it does show that a Trump product was involved with regions he’s building policy around today as President. And there may be something of a pattern. Trump had failed business dealings with the NFL, and as President he’s used protesting NFL players as a rhetorical punching bag. Trump university failed, and he’s appointed public school critic Betsy DeVos as his Education Secretary, and sought to eliminate the department altogether.
Israel Takes Over Trump-Brand Vodka
The owner of Drinks Americas apparently cut a deal with H. Pixel International Trade Ltd in 2011 to have the Trump brand liquor sold in Israel. Donald Trump sued over the rights to the use of his name but eventually, he would end up cutting his own deal with Pixel to sell the vodka. The vodka had reportedly found a niche in the Israeli market as a kosher product. This is because it’s made with potatoes.
Originally, the vodka was distilled in the Netherlands by the Wanders Distillery who specifically said that they used European wheat. When H. Pixel picked up the product, they decided to switch over to the August Ernst distillery outside Hamburg in Germany instead. The image tweeted out of recent sightings of the vodka would suggest that the product is still being made because of a blueberry flavor. But when H. Pixel CEO Avi Eliyahu announced in that his company would sell the Trump-brand vodka, he announced flavored versions along with a release of energy drinks.
In March of 2015, Badatz Igud Rabbonim discovered that there were some Trump-branded vodkas that were not kosher. Rabbonim is said to be the biggest kosher certification organization in the world which put out a warning of the brand. The certifier learned that many of the vodkas had been mislabeled in production in 2013.
Apparently, the vodka’s production ended in late 2014 and was not renewed. An employee at a liquor store in Tel Aviv said that 99 percent of the sales from the vodka happen during Passover. Another shopkeeper at another liquor store said that the vodka doesn’t sell very well during the rest of the year. A former business associate of Avi Eliyahu said that what is sold now is what’s left over on the shelves. Another shopkeeper in Tel Aviv also said that that the vodka was pungent and that they wouldn’t recommend it.
Trump’s last association with Trump vodka
In the mentioned tweet by Farenthold, he referred to Trump Drinks Israel LLC. According to a financial disclosure form released by the Office of Governmental Ethics in June of last year, both Trump Drinks Israel LLC and Trump Drinks Israel Member Corp are listed as being inactive. It also showed that Donald Trump acted as president of those two entities until the day before his inauguration.
This would mean that it’s likely that the vodka spotted in Israel is what’s left over from 2015. But over the past year since Donald Trump took office, the Trump administration has shown a friendly relationship with Israel. This would suggest that perhaps Trump-brand vodka, in this case, could be profitable for the Trump family, because of his policies as President.
Otherwise, if they are leftovers, the shopkeepers are the only ones profiting off of them.
Here’s a video by BuzzFeed where staffers try Trump-brand vodka.
Featured image via YouTube
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