United Airlines Dropped Tito’s Vodka, Now Serving Wheatley From “Man Who Launched a Million Hangovers”

United eliminated meals from many flights, then brought them back amidst customer outrage. They cut several beverages, but brought back tomato juice which had garnered most of the attention.

Jim Beam, Courvoisier and Amaretto, however, are still out at United.

Word trickled out in March that United is switching vodkas too. No more Tito’s:

Starting this summer, we will begin offering Wheatley Vodka as our exclusive vodka brand on flights worldwide. Wheatley Vodka is a craft distilled vodka created by the same makers as the award winning Buffalo Trace bourbon.

The change is now happening, Wheatley is listed onboard, but it’s a soft-cutover. United is still serving its existing stock of Tito’s, depleting what they’ve already bought, and replacing it with Wheatley gradually.

So which is better? Tito’s is gluten free. Wheatley isn’t. Wheatley seems to retail for slightly less on average — though they are both $15.99 at Total Wine. Wheatley is highly rated, in fact better rated by some than Tito’s. It’s a favorite bargain vodka from bartenders.

Distilled in total of 10 times, triple filtered, and bottled at 82 proof, this artisanal vodka has a clean crisp, and fresh taste. Harlen has always wanted to make a premium vodka, and knows from experience that wheat offers a delicate and balanced flavor profile.

Wheatley comes from Buffalo Trace Distillery, owned by Sazerac, which is controlled by billionaire liquor magnate William Goldring, “the man who launched a million hangovers” and known as “the cheap-liquor billionaire.”

This doesn’t appear to be a devaluation, just a new contract and perhaps United is getting the vodka for less. If they’re going to switch I’m just glad it’s not Popov.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Tito’s sucks anyways. Overrated pseudo craft aesthetic. And Tito himself irritates me. Buffalo Trace is a great bourbon for the price and the distillery makes great bourbon in general but I don’t have any experience with any of the vodka they distill.

  2. How the hell would vodka ever have gluten in it? It’s distilled alcohol!

  3. Yeah, as someone with a chemistry degree I wonder how something distilled 10x can have anything in it but ethanol and a bit of water.

    That’s the POINT of distilling at a specific temperature.

    Maybe they are allowed to add something after.

  4. On the bright side – one can hope this new supplier relationship may lead to buffalo trace bourbon appearing on the menu dumping the disgusting Jim Beam option.

  5. There is no gluten in any vodka. It’s a marketing gimmick that Tito’s uses on their label to take advantage of the gluten war against gluten

  6. +1 LarryInNYC By definition, vodka is alcohol + water. No distilled alcohol is going to have gluten unless the mash is added back for some reason.

    Besides, the brand of vodka doesn’t matter. I am unaware of a major domestic vodka brand that actually ferments their own alcohol. Unless you’re getting some small local craft vodka, it’s beverage alcohol purchased from ADM, MGP, or GPC, thrown in a still so they can claim stupid sh!t like “10x batch distilled” on the label, run through a charcoal filter, and watered down to the desired proof.

  7. @Golfingboy: Unless I’ve been hallucinating, Buffalo Trace has been served on UA for awhile now. Just remember to specifically ask for it, as some FAs still don’t know they have it.

  8. I tasted Tito’s a while back. I don’t see the attraction. Glad it’s gone.

  9. You guys want backlash…I have a solid tip that UA is removing the stroopwafles starting in early July. People are going to go ballistic.

  10. I dislike stroopwafles too! Horrible stuff. I much prefer Delta’s biscoff (sp?).

  11. @LarryInNYC

    If you have celiacs, youre not exactly going to roll the dice on a plane.

  12. Oops – I stand corrected! Been awhile since I last flew UA.

    This certainly makes AA the worst of the three competitors when it comes to liquor offerings.

  13. @Ray: Right. Tito’s has no ‘Handcrafted’ there. And the pot still? No wonder they refuse tours of their distillery.

  14. The point of vodka is to be as close to ethanol and water, and nothing else. Good on UA for not falling on the marketing BS of producers such as Tito.

    BTW, for all Tito’s “fans”, have you ever done a blind tasting of 5 vodkas? If not, I highly encourage you to do it (make sure it’s truly blind, i.e. someone else does the pour into identical glasses).

  15. anything that actually needed to be distilled ten times is probably not ideal for human consumption.

    disclaimer – i sort feel like i liked Titos a little better than some others.

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