Huge distillery nears start in Turkey

In the gastronomic universe, Turkey is known for its excellent cuisine, but not so much for its adult beverages. A group of investors hopes to change that with a new distillery aimed at producing spirits for international consumption.

Antalya Alcoholic Drinks Inc., located in Antalya on the "Turkish Riviera," is the result of an investment of $73.56 million. It has established an annual production level of 5 million liters of ethyl alcohol, Turkish raki and vodka, with products being turned out as of October.

(Go here for an explanation of raki, Turkey's unofficial national drink.)

The company, an affiliate of Antalya Cooperation Co., was founded, say its officers, "to boost the cooperation among the business community while raising the bar of Antalya as an industrial city operating in a wide variety of fields other than just tourism.

Ahmet Acar, company president, said an emphasis on the production of the alcoholic beverages and fruit juices has a global view, but Russia is the target of Antalya's first vodka.

"“We initially would like to appeal to the cutting edge of the Russian people, prove our quality next, and sway the world markets with our different range of products eventually," he told the Turkish Daily News.

"“We are ambitious, especially in vodka production. Upon seeing that the Russian tourists, mostly unwilling to drink Turkish vodka, bring their own vodka in their suitcases, we decided to change the common repute that the Turkish vodka lags behind its Russian counterpart in the preferences of the consumers, with our production plant designed with the latest Italian technology."

Brand names consumers eventually will be seeing include Topkapi and 7 for the rakis, and Natt and Gorzalka for the vodkas.

"As opposed to the widespread usage of barley and sugar beet, we use wheat and corn as raw material in our products," Acar told the Turkish Daily News.

This pushes prices up, but "we expect not to face any complaints from our customers, who will enjoy the taste of our pure and high quality raki, vodka and gin to the end. We are especially trying to form this segment by thinking of the appreciations and expectations of our female customers, who constitute a completely different customer portfolio. We are planning to appeal to their tastes in our soft drinks segment by fruited alcoholic drinks."

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