Katio Lucky was born in Beijing, China in 1912 to peasant parents. The youngest of six siblings, he grew up in impoverished conditions and often went without food and water. Throughout his childhood, Katio had poor health and contracted a number of illnesses. When Katio was a teenager, he heard about the city zoo in Thailand that was recruiting animal groomers. Against his parents’ wishes who feared he was too sick to survive the long journey, Katio signed on and in 1929, left for Thailand. Once there, he was put to work feeding, grooming, and caring for a herd of eight elephants. Very quickly, Katio grew fond of the elephants and people say the elephants grew fond of Katio too. He would feed them bananas, bamboo, tree bark and other fruit, and carefully groom their large bodies. He would speak to them and even sing them songs. The elephants became his greatest companion. Katio’s health began to strengthen and over time he grew to be strong and lively, an improvement he attributed to his elephants.
Elephants have been a Thai cultural icon for centuries, representing wealth and power because of their past associations with Thai royalty. Thai elephants were also used as warriors on battlefields and faithful labourers to loggers. In Chinese culture, the number 8 is the luckiest number whose literal translation is “to prosper.” Two eights bear a visual resemblance to a popular Chinese decorative design that translates into “joy.”
Until his death at age 72, Katio believed his journey from sickness to health, and from misery to joy, was a direct result of the relationships he formed with his eight elephants. It is said that Lucky No. 8 Vodka embodies the strength and resilience of Katio and is given to those who indulge in this spirit.
Wisp of confectionery. Cool, smooth palate. Gentle, sweet finish.