The Washington Post
WASILLA, Alaska — During at least one 420 celebration in Alaska on
Friday, you’ll be invited to pour yourself a drink instead of lighting
In the counterculture world, “420” is the code for cannabis consumption, and April 20 — or 4/20 — is the holy day.
ut instead of passing around a joint, why not pour a drink of hemp seed vodka?
is the newest flavor from the Alaska Distillery, the Wasilla-based
company which made a mark two years ago with the introduction of its
smoked salmon-flavored vodka.
“We have a mad scientist who kind
of runs the joint here, and he seems to have brilliant ideas,” said
Bella Coley, the distillery’s chief operating officer.
compete in the alcohol industry these days, you have to be innovative
and you have to bring in new products and you have to be imaginative,”
said Toby Foster, the company’s chief executive officer and said mad
scientist. “This product right here lends itself to all three things.”
expects this to quickly become the distillery’s biggest seller. The
product is available in 18 states as of this week with nine more signed
up, and after winning a “Hot New Spirits” award at an industry
convention in Las Vegas this month, they are adding staff to the small
Wasilla production plant.
The company says it’s the first to use
hemp seed to produce vodka in the United States. Coley says distillers
in Canada and Poland don’t distill with hemp seeds, and only add them
into the bottles.
“We wanted to be the first and the pioneers to
do something with hemp seed, a real honest and earnest hemp seed vodka,”
And before you think you’re going to get an extra buzz with your buzz, hang on, dude.
get sterilized hemp seeds from Canada for the distilling process, and
there’s no THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — in it.
goes through a lot of government processes in order to test it and to
make sure it doesn’t have THC, and there’s no ‘wink wink’ on that one,”
In fact, a sample from each batch has to be sent to federal regulators to make sure there’s no THC before they can proceed.
Bella Coley, COO of Alaska Distillery, spoke with
the AP about the
company’s hemp vodka product.
She says the hemp seeds they use don’t
and adds ‘it’s a great, hardy vodka so you can do any
of drink with it.’
varieties now account for 20 percent of all vodka sold in the country,
according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
increased about 20 percent in 2011. In all, the council reports 62.7
million 9-liter cases of vodka were sold last year, accounting for more
than $5 billion in revenues.
Purgatory should be seen as a positive for the hemp cause in the United States.
“It shows that there are high quality products that can be made on a
less-than-industrial scale, and that it reiterates that hemp should be
grown and processed in the U.S. once again, and we shouldn’t have to
import hemp seeds from other countries to be able to make a product like
this,” said Tom Murphy, a spokesman for the 300-member Hemp Industries
The marketing possibilities aside, the hemp will only make the vodka taste a little sweeter.
“I like it straight quite a bit because it just has a more refined
taste than regular vodka,” Coley said. However, if you’re inclined to
use it to mix it with something, she says it makes a nice Cosmo and can
be used with anything.
The Alaska Distillery is hosting a kickoff
party Friday at the Chair 5 restaurant in hippy-friendly Girdwood,
Alaska, and at a hemp seed event in Colorado.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.