Revolution Experiment made a bold entrance into the spirits scene. Karate Cowboy unleashed a sake-based Honey Wasabi flavored spirit on tastebuds, which was followed up by another spicy flavor fusion: Ginger Mint.
Ask the average person to run to the liquor store for some Smirnoff, and you’ll get an unflavored bottle of vodka. Ask for a bottle of Karate Cowboy and it’s which one? Red or green?
No longer. Revolution Experiment is introducing the “go grab a bottle of Smirnoff” equivalent with a no flavors added Natural version.
“We launched a product with two steps of differentiation and that’s really tough to do,” says Mark Tinus, founder of the spirits company. “We already are introducing in the Midwest a sake-based product which isn’t super universally known, and then we’re doing flavors that are different from the normal flavors that are in the market.”
People would taste the wasabi or the ginger and not know if the “different” was the flavors themselves or the sake.
“We need to come back and we have to create our own identity,” Tinus says.
That identity is a spirit with a six-times distilled corn base infused with sake. On the palate, Tinus describes it as the smoothness and clear out of a vodka, with notes of a gin.
For the new Natural flavor, and all production moving forward, Revolution Experiment is trading Louisville, KY for Columbus, OH and a partnership with Middle West Spirits. Tinus quickly realized that four hours away wasn’t conducive for those little, “I wonder what would happen if we tried this?” moments. It became clear: either he had to move to Louisville or production had to move to Columbus.
“We weren’t going to move it here unless we could improve the quality of the product,” Tinus says. “We wanted a solidified long-term partnership that had the flexibility to do future products for us.”
Tinus met with Ryan Lang at Middle West to discuss the distillery’s capabilities and how Karate Cowboy could fit into that production. The not having to drive four hours and being able to bat ideas back and forth with another owner and founder of a spirits company, “That is the true essence of partnership to me,” Tinus says.
Each ultimately owns their own products, but Tinus sees it as a rising tides lifts all ships situation. If they each turn out the best product possible, they can put Columbus on the map for its spirits.
Other big benefits come with navigating the state regulatory system. With localized production in-state, shipping becomes easier as does managing inventory. It also has the residual effect of freeing up Karate Cowboy’s growing staff of part-timers for more value-add work, versus tasks like making an eight-hour round trip drive to pick up a few cases of Cowboy.
Revolution Experiment is not just establishing its identity with a Natural flavor, but re-establishing its flavored creations. The Natural flavor will serve as the new base for the Honey Wasabi and Ginger Mint. Tinus says it has created a smoothing out of some of the notes of flavor, like a more mellow spiciness in the Ginger Mint.
Overall it’s bringing a more accessible lineup of Karate Cowboy to the bar.
“It opens us up to a much broader consumer set,” Tinus says. “We don’t have to modify and be everything to everybody, but we definitely have to be flexible enough to show that versatility.”
The brand is highlighting the versatility of the Natural spirit through a flavor/mixing wheel. So often asked, “What do I mix it with?” the wheel of suggestions encourages consumer to create on their own.
The Natural Karate Cowboy will be hitting liquor stores around Columbus soon. The flavor will then go statewide over the summer. Karate Cowboy’s Ginger Mint and Honey Wasabi have taken some bar and shelf space in Cincinnati and Cleveland, but Tinus plans to roll out their portfolio of three flavors all at once in new cities. One of those new cities is their first expansion outside the state. As a natural extension of the Cincinnati market, Karate Cowboy is headed for northern Kentucky.
For more information, visit karatecowboyspirit.com.
CLICK HERE to read more about the new Natural flavor on Columbus Underground.