Aviv 613 Vodka, currently only available in Minnesota, aims for a spiritual essence — making it worthy of heartfelt toasts
By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor
When the Academy Awards are handed out on March 2, the nominees for Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, as well as host Ellen Degeneres, will receive gift bags valued at more than $55,000. Among the items included in those bags will be Aviv 613 Vodka, a “spiritually infused” luxury vodka from Minneapolis-based Tzfat Spirits of Israel (12-20-13 AJW).
Founder and CEO Marc Grossfield cites the Talmud, which says “wine gladdens the hearts of man” (Psalms 104:15). To him, vodka is another spirit that can gladden the heart and enhance important celebrations.
“I wanted to make every part of the product spiritual,” said Grossfield during a recent visit to the AJW offices. “I wanted to make it worthy of a real heartfelt toast.”
Grossfield comes from a background in promotions and product marketing, and is a newcomer to the spirits industry. When a friend moved back to Israel, he found several opportunities in which Grossfield could invest. None of them really interested Grossfield — until the friend mentioned vodka, and the Israeli family that’s been making it for more than 200 years.
Grossfield traveled to Israel and met with Yossi Gold, owner of Joseph Gold and Sons, the largest distiller of spirits in Israel. The Gold family had been distilling vodka in a village in what is now Ukraine for centuries, and arrived in Tzfat in 1824.
Though the distillery was moved to Haifa in 1955, Grossfield’s company, Tzfat Spirits of Israel, is a nod to the family’s roots in the Holy Land as well as the spiritual center of Judaism.
“[The Gold family] just happened to move there, but Tzfat is also the single most important point in the world for Kabbala. It’s where all these Kabbalistic rabbis lived and died, in Tzfat,” Grossfield said. “It’s the most spiritual city in the world, in terms of Judaism.”
Grossfield and Gold developed a partnership, and Grossfield set out to make his vodka spiritual in every way. And it begins with the vodka itself, which is distilled from the biblical seven species: wheat, barley, olives, figs, dates, grapes and pomegranates (all of the fruits are grown in Israel on kosher farms and orchards).
“It was way, way harder than he thought,” Grossfield said of Gold, who spent three years perfecting the process. “He distills the grains together…and then he distills the fruits together, so he creates two different tanks of alcohol, one made from grain, one made from the fruits. Then he blends them and distills them one more time, and then it goes through six filtrations. And that’s the 6-1-3.”
Of course, there are also 613 commandments in the Torah.
The water in the vodka is from the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater source in the world, making the vodka ultra smooth. And a small portion of the sand used to make the glass bottle comes from Israel.
“In Judaism, it only takes one grain to make the whole thing spiritual,” Grossfield said. “When you’re holding the bottle, you’re holding a little piece of the Holy Land.”
The unique bottle was designed and manufactured by Saverglass in Feuquières, France, which also created luxury bottles for Grey Goose and Cîroc. Grossfield went through 279 sketches before settling on the three-sided design for his bottle.
The Aviv 613 Vodka bottle features a cap in the shape of a crown, representing the top of the 10 sefirot (attributes) of Kabbala, and its triangular shape represents three parts of the soul: body, mind and spirit, according to Grossfield.
The bottom of the bottle is an irregular triangle, representing the soul in need of repair. Moving from the bottom of the bottle to the top represents life’s journey, and the top of the bottle is an equilateral triangle, representing the soul perfected at maturity.
The bottle narrows from the bottom to the top representing decreasing the size of your ego, the cause of anger and frustration. And the third side is curved, which represents the curves that life throws at us, the critical challenges we face during our lives.
“In spite of those curves, we have to find joy and celebrate our life,” Grossfield said.
In fact, the words “Celebrate life!” are embossed on the bottle in all of the major world languages, including Hebrew, Arabic and Farsi. That side of the bottle is also embossed with many of the spiritual symbols of the Holy Land, such as the Hebrew alphabet, the hamsa and the Star of David.
“The whole shape of the bottle [represents] life’s journey, in perfecting your soul, that’s the reason why we’re here,” Grossfield said. “Part of that process is not letting those big challenges get to us and make us jump, but instead make us find joy and celebrate our life — and vodka helps you a little bit.”
Aviv 613 Vodka is currently only available at the major liquor retailers in Minnesota. For information, visit: www.avivvodka.com. (American Jewish World, 2.28.14)
Since 1912 the AJW has served as an important news resource for the Jewish community. The Jewish World unites the main Jewish communities in St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as those in Duluth, Rochester and smaller cities, and bridges the divides between the various Jewish religious streams.