SMOKECRAFT: Smooth vodka with a hint of smoke

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SMOKECRAFT has developed an innovative cold smoking process and created a smooth aromatic vodka with hints of cardamom, pepper and lavender.

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SMOKECRAFT Team:
Robert Köcke, CEO
Tom O’Marv, Distributor

Please introduce yourselves: What does your startup do?

SMOKECRAFT has developed a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to the classic barrel aging process. It offers a time- and cost-saving method that allows to pre-mature and sell young wines or whiskeys in the initial phase.

Different types of wood chips can be combined into complex taste bouquets. We make our own wood chips, burn them slowly to capture the essential oils and resins and then mix them with our Sommerweizen (summer wheat) vodka.

With our cold smoking process, we can refine young wine and other spirits, sorbet, coffee, tomatoes and many other products.

How did you come up with an idea and concept? What inspired and motivated you to create this product?

The founder of SMOKECRAFT Robert Koecke is a world traveler and passionate chef who cares about nature.

After a seminar on smoking techniques in Asia, Robert wondered whether it would be possible to smoke glass to extract the aromas and flavors preserved in the wood so that they could be stored.

That idea was the cornerstone of a remarkable and adventurous journey and led to the creation of a very special single wood vodka that has won multiple awards.

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What is unique about your business idea and operating model?

We revolutionize classic smoking to apply natural wood aroma to food & beverage products. Using custom-made wood chips for cold smoking, we imbue our products with the essence of smoke.

SMOKECRAFT Vodka is a pilot product and only the beginning of a seemingly endless chain of opportunities. It can replace whiskey in earthy and smoky drinks and subtly emphasize every ingredient in delicate recipes.

The main flavor comes from the specific hardwood or fruitwood which we pick for the vodka. An underlying note of smoke joins a sweet summer wheat note with hints of cardamom, pepper and lavender.

We often hear that it’s unexpectedly smooth, aromatic and doesn’t burn at all. That is mostly because of the essential oils that come from the wood.

What were the most significant difficulties you had to overcome while building your startup?

The biggest difficulty in the initial phase was to find a stable source of financing. Cost-efficient performance was our top priority from the very beginning and we tried to achieve it through the lean business approach. We outsourced all the production processes in order to remain flexible.

Working outdoors with fire and smoke seemed romantic but had some major disadvantages. With many manual work steps and logistical challenges, quality fluctuations were our constant companion.

As a result of countless attempts and observations, we developed our cold smoking method with our own equipment and chips made specifically for food and beverage products.

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Where do you see yourselves and your company in 5 years?

SMOKECRAFT is looking for a 3 million Euro investment. By the end of 2019, we aim to offer products and services in the green food segment. In 3 years, we would like to generate a turnover of more than 12 million Euro in DACH, Asia and USA.

Our goal for the future is to develop new products as well as cooperate with other companies that have nothing to do with spirits.

What are your expectations from the NX-Food Startup Shelf Program?

Increase sales, expand our network and boost brand awareness. Develop and list at least two new products. Test them at METRO and find at least one investor. Optionally, aim for an exit in 8-10 years.

What are your main milestones and achievements?

  • Recognition from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, "Hand Made in Germany Product 2016"
  • IWSC Silver 2016
  • CWSA Gold 2017
  • NX-Food listing

The NX-Food visual branding and website are developed by dombek—bolay and Albert Naasner, in close collaboration with the NX-Food team.