Tastemaker Spotlight: Amber Ferrell-Steele, Founder & CEO of Timeless Vodka
Meet Houston’s Rising Star of Premium Vodka Who’s Shaking Up the Spirits World
Amber Ferrell-Steele, Founder & CEO of Timeless Vodka (photo credit: Envision Media)
With a drive for excellence and a keen eye for innovation and style, Amber Ferrell-Steele was destined to become a successful entrepreneur. As a native of Greenville, South Carolina, but now a resident of Houston, Texas, her passion for life and love for premium spirits has led to the launch of her new brand, Timeless Vodka.
Coming from a long history of working for a Fortune 500 company, Amber’s savvy business background and her perseverance led to the concept of creating a premium gluten-free vodka line for all to enjoy. During this time, she had met her now-husband and former star athlete, Bruce Steele, who wasn’t a big fan of alcohol because of the bitterness that some spirits can leave on the palate. Curious if other consumers felt this way, Amber began to work on a vodka formulation, seeking the highest quality of taste and smoothness. After experimenting with different distillation and purification processes, she discovered a unique proprietary filtration technique that uses activated coconut carbon to deliver a crisp and refreshing taste.
Officially launching in January 2020, Timeless Vodka has quickly grown into a cult favorite and can now be purchased in four different states and shipped directly into 44 states across the US. As reported by America Daily Post, Timeless has also displayed one of the most impressive revenue and brand growth ratios in the independent spirits segment in recent times.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber, covering her recent Timeless Vodka launch as well as what her experience has been like growing a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amber, thank you so much for interviewing with me! I am a big fan of Timeless Vodka. First off, what inspired the name, “Timeless”?
When working for a Fortune 500 company, you’re on the road a lot. One night, after returning to Houston from a long leg of travel, I came home to a card and a handwritten letter from my husband, Bruce, and daughter, English. Inside the card, was a note that mentioned how precious time is and the people you spend it with. My husband and I started laughing and reminiscing about all of the fun times, happy times, uncertain times, and most memorable times that we’ve spent together, and how a cocktail could be enjoyed through it all. That’s when it hit us! Our new vodka would be called “Timeless”. Spending time with family, loved ones, and friends mean the world to us, so we knew the phrase would capture the essence of Timeless Vodka. Moments matter, make them timeless.
This is such a great story. Thank you for sharing. What do you love most about your job? Can you share an interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I love that my job never feels like work! The most interesting story is how I was able to get distribution. A complete bold move, but I had been turned down by so many that I was feeling pretty immune to “no”, so I found the VP’s phone number on a Friday afternoon, gave him a call, and sold my story. We had a formal meeting a week later and a few days before Christmas I received the best news ever. We had full distribution in Texas!
That’s a huge win! Congratulations on full distribution in Texas. When you first started your research into Timeless, what was the most surprising thing you learned about vodka and distilling?
A lot of research went into Timeless to ensure the taste and quality was something that my husband and I would personally enjoy so that we could share with others. The most surprising thing was that you could, in theory, make vodka out of almost anything! Based on our goals, we knew that we wanted to use corn and not have any by-products to guarantee a gluten-free product.
I love that your vodka is gluten-free. Can you walk me through the process of what else makes Timeless Vodka so unique?
Timeless is distilled five times using mineral water, but the key is our unique and proprietary process using a coconut carbon filtration process. What this does during distillation is it smooths out the vodka while removing impurities each time. This leaves you with a rich and velvety smooth taste.
Timeless Vodka Bottle (photo credit: SkyPro Visuals)
Your vodka is delicious and most certainly smooth. What is your preferred way to drink Timeless vodka? Can you offer any favorite cocktail recommendations?
We designed Timeless with the goal in mind that if you can drink it neat, it will mix seamlessly and effortlessly. My favorite cocktail is our Timeless Blackberry Lemonade. Timeless Vodka, lemonade, simple syrup, muddled strawberries/blackberries, and soda.
Yum, that recipe sounds delicious! Timeless Vodka launched in January 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. How have you been handling this turbulent time? What lessons did you learn along the way?
Yes… when you launch a business you plan for a lot of variables and this was not one of them! Luckily, we were able to pivot our operation pretty fast. We immediately got shelf space in whatever retail locations we could and were already set up online to sell. We partnered with various delivery services to provide a free “white glove” experience to certain areas. We learned that you must be agile and resilient. There is no room to panic!
This is great insight for all entrepreneurs operating during these unprecedented times. During the pandemic, we’ve also witnessed a nationwide civil rights movement, focusing on racial justice. As a leading Black female CEO and business owner in the spirits industry, what advice might you be able to share for allies in order to help overcome systemic racism in the alcohol industry?
Wow! That’s a loaded question with a lot of unpacking that needs to be done, but I am ready for it! Support, support, and tell your friends and family to support! In my short time in the industry, I have experienced systematic racism by some likely and very unlikely sources. This is not an industry that a lot of us are welcomed with open arms, especially being a female let alone a Black female, at that! We are all fighting for shelf space and to get the opportunity to share a product with consumers. The fight looks much different for those who look like me to even get the meeting to pitch our product. The alcohol industry is changing though. There are now more brands than ever that are minority and/or female-owned. It’s a beautiful thing to see and I hope it continues! What we need from allies, such as yourself, is your voice and your platform to spread awareness about brands, such as Timeless. I want people to enjoy Timeless because it’s a high-quality vodka, and oh, by the way, we are also female and Black-owned. Allies can help with this in the short term while we all work towards the long term goal of dismantling systemic racism.
Thank you for sharing this powerful message and I couldn’t agree more, Amber. To conclude our interview, what is your passion?
Oh! I have so many, but I’d have to say the people I love and creating new experiences are at the very top. This has always been the driving force behind anything and everything that I do, even from a very young age. Honestly, this is what makes Timeless so special, the meaning behind its namesake. I want every sip of Timeless to be a timeless experience!
Amber Ferrell-Steele holds a bottle of Timeless Vodka (photo credit: Tammi Leigh)
Tasting Timeless is indeed a timeless experience. Before conducting this interview, I purchased a bottle online from Jensen's Liquors to give it a try. This vodka is incredibly unique and blends effortlessly into a cocktail. On the nose, Timeless presents subtle floral notes and soft citrus characteristics. On the palate, the vodka is smooth, fresh, and palatable, not overpowering when sipped alone. Because of the freshness that this vodka presents, I was inspired to create a Cucumber Rose Timeless Soda for your drinking pleasure.
Cucumber Rose Timeless Soda
Servings: 1 drink
Blender or food processor
2 large English cucumbers
Cucumber Rose Timeless Soda
2 ½ ounces fresh cucumber juice
1 ½ ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 ounce Timeless Vodka
1 ounce CBD-infused simple syrup
½ teaspoon rosewater
Top with club soda
Crushed ice for serving
Cucumber slice for garnish along with a washed/cleaned miniature rose
Begin by preparing the cucumber juice. Cut the English cucumbers into pieces, then add them into a blender or food processor. Purée for 1 minute or until the cucumber chunks turn into juice. Using a fine-mesh strainer, separate the pulp from the juice over a 16-ounce Mason jar (save the extra juice to make more drinks!). Discard the pulp and then set the Mason jar aside.
Add the cucumber juice, fresh-squeezed lime juice, Timeless vodka, CBD-infused simple syrup, and rosewater into a shaker tin. Add ice, then shake for 15 seconds or until very cold. Strain into a glass of your choice filled with fresh crushed ice. Before serving, garnish with a cucumber slice and miniature rose, then enjoy.
About the Author:
Jamie Evans is the founder of The Herb Somm and author of The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol. She is an author, entrepreneur, and writer specializing in cannabis, food, recipes, wine, and the canna-culinary world. In addition to her work in the cannabis industry, Jamie has over a decade of wine industry experience and is a Certified Specialist of Wine. Having represented a wide array of organizations and wineries, she is best known for her literary work and producing high-end events. She was also named as one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers in 2018. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TheHerbSomm.