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42 Below is named due to New Zealand, its country of origin, lying on the 42nd parallel, its marketing centres on its location and the purity of the spring water used.
It was created in 1996 by Geoff Ross who first started distilling in his garage with a still his wife bought him. (They are allowed to do that kind of thing there.) Hooked, he made the move from the advertising industry to set up his 42 Below vodka brand and sold the first bottling in 1999. In December 2006 Geoff received a very lucrative buyout deal from Bacardi. Although Geoff originally made 42 Below in a small pot still, it is now distilled from GM-free wheat using a four column distillation process.
Spring 2010 saw 42 Below vodka unveil a sleek new bottle design. The shape remains tall and slender but slightly reduced in stature to better fit standard shelf heights. Each flavour in the range is differentiated by its own colour. To quote the wonderfully 42 Below styled press release at the time, “Manuka Honey’, is now just called ‘Honey’ because Americans didn’t know what Manuka was. ‘Passionfruit’ is now called ‘Passion’ because the Chinese didn’t know what Passionfruit was and Kiwifruit’ is now just called ‘Kiwi’ because it annoys the Aussies. Feijoa remains Feijoa because nobody knows what the hell a Feijoa is anyway.” “The end result: 42Below has a sleek new design that is so ‘2010’ that even the Hoxton kids think is stylish and in the process some lucky graphic designer got paid a bunch of money to make the bottle look pretty much the same as it used to look before, just cooler.”
The only sad news to report is that the original and apt 42% alcohol by volume has been brought in line across skews and markets to now be 40% globally.