When you think of premium vodka, two things that do not come to mind are: “Hawaii,” and “responsibly sourced.” Yet that is exactly what is being done on the island of Maui, where the folks at Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery have been producing the award-winning Ocean Vodka since 2012.
The product goes above and beyond typical standards to meet the “organic” label. On an 80-acre farm on the slopes of Haleakala, the company grows all the sugar cane that is used to distill the spirit. The desalinated ocean water that makes up the other 60% of the finished product is drawn off the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii from a depth of 3,000 feet.
And to go a step further, the folks at Hawaii Sea Spirit Organic Farm use solar power to run their facilities, package their vodka in recycled glass, and hand-harvest their sugar cane — a manner that helps in land and soil conservation, unlike the conventional style of burning cane fields.
But what’s the big deal about the ocean water anyway? Well, the deep-ocean water starts off ice-cold, deeply pure, and full of naturally occurring minerals. It is organically purified and desalinated through a proprietary, natural-filtration process that removes sodium while retaining rich minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Bottom line: it gives the 80-proof vodka distinct, but subtle characteristics that are garnering a lot of awards.
Ocean Vodka has won multiple gold medals and has an average score of 92 from all vodka reviewers. What are they saying about the spirit? Beverage Experts (bevx.com) gave it 4 our of 4 stars and had this to say:
“Brilliant, crystal clear. The nose is fresh, clean with clean and soft mineral notes with supporting notes of talc and wet river stones. The palate is equal to the nose with a soft, silky viscosity that elongates the palate acting as an ideal canvas for the soft elongated notes. Redolent of complex European wheat Vodka with supporting notes of mineral and hints of citrus and pepper. Perfectly balanced with long, trailing mineral and spice notes accenting the silky texture.”
Our verdict? We got wasted on mojitos made with Ocean Vodka, and the hangover the next day was surprisingly mild, with only slight ringing in the ears reminiscent of tinnitus, and subtle undertones of day-after-rock-concert head thump. Overall, a completely manageable post-debauchery experience that allowed us not only to get to work on time the next day, but also to be productive until at least lunch.
If you are on the island of Maui (and especially if you are traveling without people under the age of 21), then you must visit the farm/distillery. You’ll get a full tour of the facility, followed by a sampling, and a souvenir shot glass to take home. The highlight of the tour is the Martini Garden, where they grow fresh, local ingredients such as Kula lavender, local citrus, passion fruit, pineapple, and strawberries for the ultimate martini experience.
The recipe that won us over, from oceanvodka.com:
ULTIMATE OCEAN COCKTAIL: Mill Camp Mojito by Gabriel Harvey
1 ½ oz OCEAN Organic Vodka
1 ½ oz Calamansi Lime Juice
1 ¼ oz Raw Sugar Simple Syrup
3 Shiso Leaves
3 Calamansi, halved
3 Ginger Slices (nickel size)
Sugar Cane Stick
Kim Chee Powder
Muddle the Shiso leaves and ginger together until the oil are extracted from both and the leaves break apart. Add OCEAN Organic Vodka, raw sugar simple sugar and crushed ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a stemmed tropical glass. Cut 3 Calamansi limes in half. Add 3 of the halves into the glass and stir lightly. Skewer the remaining 3 halves with the sugar cane stick and dip them into the Kim Chee powder. Place one Shiso leaf and the cane skewer into the drink as garnishment, enjoy!