Kim Blaylock knows plenty about fighting fires. He spent 29 years with the where he retired as battalion chief. Deciding to do something different, he and friend Mark Miceli, a firefighter in Seattle, got an idea to create their own vodka, but Blaylock admits at the time he knew nothing about vodka.
“I drink beer and a little Crown Royal. So we did research and then I went to a workshop in Boston to learn how to make vodka,” said Blaylock.
In December 2011, Blaylock, his wife, Michele, and Miceli launched Venom Vodka. The beverage is distilled and bottled in Bend, OR, then shipped to a Carlsbad warehouse for distribution in California. “We bought 5,000 bottles and have used close to 3,000 so far,” added Kim.
In two of those bottles on shelves somewhere are diamonds. “Mark is a diamond broker and a firefighter. He put .31-carat diamonds inside two corks. Whoever finds them can send them to Mark and he’ll put them into earring at no additional cost,“ explained Kim.
The bottles are sold in Washington and in 50 locations in California. About half of those locations in Carlsbad. Kim went on foot as many liquor stores, restaurants and grocery stores trying to get Venom Vodka on the shelves.
Michele said they recently just expanded the company by hiring a mixologist who also does sales. “He creates drinks for us to give to our restaurant accounts. He is also on the website and you can ask him questions,” explained Michele.
Venom Vodka has already won awards – a gold medal for taste and a bronze medal for package and design from the Micro Liquor Spirit Awards. “Out of 260 companies only 14 percent got gold medals,” said Michele.
The company also prides itself on being charitable and giving back to numerous non profits and firefighter charities.
“We really believe in the product. Everyone that has tried it, loves it,” said Michele, “It’s made with corn-based grain because it produced a smoother flavor. We filter it six times, which takes out impurities. “