I like connecting with successful women in the vodka industry – they always give me motivation and somehow inspire me. It is not an easy thing to start your own brand and build it from scratch, especially when it comes to something as delicate as vodka. The taste and quality of the ingredients are just as important as the branding, so you have to make sure it ticks all the boxes. I had the pleasure to catch up with Brooke Bloomquist - the founder of Blue Shark Vodka, and find out more about the inspiration behind her brand.
I love your story, can you tell me a little bit about the start of Blue Shark Vodka and inspiration behind it?
I’ve worked in hospitality and marketing pretty much my entire life. I started with pouring glasses of wine and pints of beer, when I was in my early 20's living in New York working at an Irish Pub part-time on nights and weekends, while working full time for Warner Music Group during the day. I then worked in a Starwood Hotel Resort in Maui, Hawaii, and that is where the idea of Blue Shark Vodka was born - or I guess you can say it all click together when my father was visiting.
Six years ago, it started with drinks by the pool, and it evolved into the first spirits distillery in New Hanover County on the coast of North Carolina. My father previously owned a business that created Bobbleheads, and when we were in Hawaii by the pool I thought, “How could we incorporate a real figurine into a bottle?” After going to the drawing board the idea for Blue Shark Vodka was born! My passion was poured into the design of the bottle that would, by design, be not just a liquor bottle, but a unique piece of art. The vision was to have a hand-blown bottle with a unique shark blown right into its base. After trial and error and four renditions of bottle prototypes, we finally were able to craft the perfect bottle! Now you can have a great looking bottle but personally I didn't have any background or knowledge on spirits that is where my dad really came in. When we lived in the Bay Area California my father Mark (or as we call him "Chief") used to work for Seagram's back in the day - so this idea to open our own distillery didn't come out of left field. After creating the perfect recipe, we were able to connect with a Polkton, North Carolina, farmer in Anson County. Farmer Jeff Griffin, of Griffin Farms, became a part of the Blue Shark Vodka family by growing the sweet Carolina Corn to ensure that the vodka was wholly a North Carolina product.
Blue Shark Vodka is made entirely from Carolina sweet corn harvested in Polkton, NC and pure North Carolina water. Farmer Jeff of Polkton, NC oversees the production of our Sweet Carolina Corn. What makes Blue Shark Vodka so smooth is a combination of the Sweet Carolina Corn and our distilling process. BSV is distilled four times, then using a reverse osmosis process, is filtered three times. Our first year was fantastic (we just celebrated year one on June 19th!) but most of our shark fans don’t know or probably don’t recall that we spent 5 years working to perfect our bottles, labels and our Vodka! Our idea for Blue Shark Vodka grew from our fascination with spirits, especially those with unique packaging and exceptional quality.
What was the biggest challenge when opening the distillery?
It was very difficult to break into an industry that is so strictly regula