VeeV Greens the Liquor Industry with Sustainable Spirits Made from Acai

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Courtney and Carter Reum, founders of VeeV Acai Spirits

Courtney and Carter Reum, founders of VeeV Acai Spirits, a liquor made with acai. Photo: Courtesy Courtney Reum

When brothers Courtney and Carter Reum decided to launch a spirits company, they were open to different possibilities—but one element of the concept was a certainty. “We knew it would include a sustainability component,” Courtney Reum says. “Nobody was doing anything sustainable in alcohol. There was a lack of innovation. So we realized we had a chance to do something really unique.”

Veev vodka is made using sustainable practices. Photo: Courtesy VeeV

Veev liquor is made using sustainable practices. Photo: Courtesy VeeV

The brothers resigned their positions as investment bankers with Goldman Sachs and set out to “green” the liquor industry.

That was four years and more than 500,000 bottles ago. Since the first 7,500-bottle batch of VeeV Acai Spirit™ came off the line at Rigby, Idaho-based Distilled Resources Inc., this duo has racked up some pretty compelling eco-cred.

Certified carbon-neutral by Climate Clean LLC  in January 2008, the Reums’ operation is a model of sustainable best practices. Produced in a wind-powered facility, the finished product combines locally sourced, Vitamin C-rich acerola cherry and prickly pear with acai-infused wheat grain alcohol in a distillation process that consumes 200% less energy than a traditional still.

It’s bottled in partially recycled glass adorned with soy-ink printed labels and then marketed by a youthful, hybrid-driving sales force to glam bars and restaurants and upmarket retail outlets. The drink’s green caché, along with its crisp flavor and perceived health benefits, has made it a favorite among celeb influentials and club-goers alike. It’s even reputed not to cause severe hangovers.

“Experiential” promotional techniques designed to build awareness among an environmentally conscious, hip party crowd have built the brand into a $5MM concern in just four years, while giving every VeeV customer various opportunities to stand up for the cause.

For every bottle of VeeV sold, the company donates $1 to the Sustainable Amazon Partnership. The organization works directly with growers and co-ops in the rainforests of Brazil, the planet’s sole source of the acai berry. “I know where every dollar goes,” Courtney Reum assures Blue Planet Green Living. The proceeds fund soil testing aimed at maintaining the biodiversity of the rainforest and ensures the continuity of wild-harvesting methods that protect the surrounding ecosystem from damage, he explains.

The project also provides indigenous people with a source of income earned by protecting the rainforest, rather than cutting it down. “I’ve seen people’s lives changed,” Reum states. “ Our growers have been able to double their standard of living.”

Last year, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the company started the TREEtini® program. Participating bars and restaurants are charged with concocting their own proprietary, seasonally inspired VeeV-based cocktail. They track TREEtini sales, donating 50¢ per drink ordered. For each TREEtini sold, VeeV plants a tree in areas most in need of reforestation. Thus far, with more than 100 outlets on board, the program has resulted in the planting of more than 40,000 new trees.

A 2003 surfing trip to Brazil introduced the Reums to the delightful flavor and extraordinary health benefits of the acai berry. “We ate it on the beach every morning for breakfast,” says Courtney. “This was years before all the buzz about acai being the new pomegranate, the world’s pre-eminent superfruit, and so forth.” The berry’s reputation seems well-deserved. Packed with antioxidants—57% more than blueberries and pomegranates—high in protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids, it’s amazingly well rounded nutritionally.

The brothers stop short of describing VeeV as a health food; it is, after all, 60 proof alcohol. “It’s a healthier alternative,” says Reum. “If you choose to drink, this is a better way.”

And VeeV’s business model is a healthier alternative for the planet. At ages 29 and 32, these ecopreneurs are dedicated to raising awareness and support for environmental causes. Courtney says, “We’re old enough and sufficiently established in our careers to take action, and we’re young enough to devote the time it’s going to take. We’re the generation that’s going to make a difference.”

Caryn Green

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)