It’s technically Polish made but using Lebanese mountain water. I think it’s a very ambitious move to compete with the likes of Grey Goose, Russian Standard and Belvedere but it’s definitely worth a try. I will go grab a bottle in the next few days.
J2’s journey began two years ago when Aboulhosn’s brother-in-law — who works in the wine industry in the United States — told Aboulhosn he had made some contacts in the spirits industry and was looking to create a local spirit in Lebanon. Aboulhosn, whose background is in finance, liked the idea of creating a Lebanese spirit and together they started the Middle East Beverage Company.
After assessing the potential alcohols — which included wine, whiskey and beer — the decision fell on vodka because of its relatively straightforward production process and the fact that it is the fastest growing spirit in terms of consumption in Lebanon and the rest of the world. In 2010 Lebanon imported more than 1 million liters of vodka. “This is a huge chunk and the potentials are enormous,” says Aboulhosn. “If we only manage to capture 2 percent of that market, we would still be doing well.”
A bottle of J2 will retail for somewhere between $40 to $50, less expensive than their competitors in the premium vodka market such as Grey Goose which sells at $60 or Belvedere at $90 but still a high-end price. Aboulhosn says they chose to produce a premium vodka for two reasons. “If you look at the Lebanese brands that do well, they are usually high end ones and the Lebanese have pride when it comes to brands like that,” he says, giving the examples of Lebanese fashion designers and wine producers. The other reason was that they would not have been able to compete with current low-end vodka producers when it came to the economies of scale required to make a profit. [Executive-Magazine]