Hemp Vodka First of its Kind in North America


July 31, 2010 – It’s always 4:20 somewhere, and two Grande Prairie women figure the best way to celebrate is with a nice, cold shot of hemp-infused vodka.

Yes, someone has figured out how to put two of the world’s most popular vices — alcohol and cannabis — together.

“We think that this is definitely the best thing we’ve come up with so far,” says Stephanie Keough. The former bartender and her friend Brenda Magnusson are the creators of Stoked Vodka, an 80-proof infused with hemp extract. The liquor will be officially introduced at a launch party in Grande Prairie Friday (July 23).

“The response,” Keough says, “has been overwhelming.” They are, of course, selling a winning combo; the only surprise is that no one else had thought of it earlier. While other “cannabis vodkas” exist in other parts of the world, “there’s nothing else in North America currently other than us,” Keough says.

Keough and Magnusson, former colleagues at an engineering firm, landed on the idea over after-work drinks about a year ago. They were experimenting with mixes and Magnusson pulled out some hemp seed oil from her fridge. Hemp seed is a health product that contains essential amino and fatty acids and is said to improve circulation and blood pressure and nourish hair and nails. While derived from the same plant as marijuana, it does not have the same psychoactive properties.

The Liquid Chicks, as the two women have branded themselves, eventually took their concoction to Calgary’s Highwood Distillery to see how their idea could be refined.

The result is a quadruple-distilled vodka with a slight hint of hemp’s nutty flavour. “It just tastes like regular vodka, with a little bit of an extra kick to it,” Magnusson says. And because it’s been distilled once more than typical vodkas, she adds, it’s ultrasmooth.

“It goes well with anything,” Magnusson says. “I’ve given it out to a bunch of people and they’ve tried it. All of them said that they didn’t have a hangover next day and it didn’t make them feel nauseated the next day. So it’s really good vodka.”

Now, the women are working to get Stoked behind the bar and in liquor stores across Alberta. “It’s getting to the fun stuff,” says Magnusson, after a long haul riddled with roadblocks.

“Hemp is new; it’s controversial; you’re breaking barriers,” Keough explains. “Getting our label passed was really hard. It’s just the taboo behind it that makes it a little bit harder to get out there. And being the first too, of course.”

Throughout the production process, the women were often told: “It sounds like a great idea, but I’m sure if it hasn’t been done, it’s probably because it couldn’t be done.” But, says Keough, “we found out that we could do it so we just kept pursuing it.”

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Stoked goes for about $27 to $30 for a 750-mL bottle, a mid-to top-shelf vodka that Keough says will likely appeal to 18-to 25-year-olds. But because hemp is known for being environmentally cultivated, she adds, its reach will likely be even broader.

The vodka market is tough, and Stoked will be sharing shelf space with dozens of varieties that offer flavours from acai to espresso. But the two Alberta entrepreneurs are confident that what they have is unique.

“There’s nothing else out there that can compare,” Keough says.

“It’s not really a flavour. It’s not a raspberry flavour. It’s completely unique and completely different, and it stands out when you see a bottle on the shelf, I think.” Source.


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