As marijuana users and drinkers argue over which is the better vice, micro-distiller Abe Stevens decided to bring the two together with his newest product — marijuana-infused vodka.
The sativa-flavored vodka, made at the Humboldt Distillery in California is infused with food-grade legal hemp buds to attain a taste unlike any other vodka on the market.
“Our area of Humboldt county is kind of a well-known region for illicit marijuana cultivation,” Stevens said. “I would run into people out in the field kind of joking and asking when we were going to put some local flavor into our vodka.”
For a long time, Stevens said he would just shrug off the idea, as a marijuana vodka product would be a legal nightmare for a distillery. Finally, after more badgering from his community and a little more research, Stevens found a legal way to infuse Humboldt’s finest into his vodka. “Marijuana would be illegal to infuse into our vodka, but using legal food-grade hemp isn’t, and would allow us to capture some of that flavor,” Stevens said.
Head of sales and marketing and Daily Texan alumnus Jim Sweeney said although they found a way to legally infuse marijuana into their vodka, the company doesn’t necessarily plan on switching over to cannabis with THC pending possible changes in the law.
“When you go to a bar, you know where you are relative to the intensity of how much you drink or the intensity of marijuana you might smoke,” Sweeney said. “When those products get combined, the beverage alcohol community is taking 100 percent responsibility to try to figure out what the self-medication level for high-intensity marijuana and 80 proof vodka (is).”
Stevens said he agrees it might not be responsible for them to mix two drugs in one product, and combination should be left to the discretion of consumers.
For anyone who’s wondering what the benefit of a weed-infused vodka is when it doesn’t even get you high, Sweeney said it’s a flavor that reintroduces some class to the vodka game, which has been rapidly declining in popularity as of late.
“(The industry) has moved in this silly direction with stuff like marshmallow and banana, and we’ve brought it back to a level of infusion integrity,” Sweeney said. “It’s just been a little more interesting to see vodka back on the signature list rather than only seeing brown spirits.”
Sweeney said the reception of Humboldt’s Finest from mixologists has been as positive as they hoped, with a number of mixologists comparing this new vodka to craft ryes and bourbons.
“A lot of mixologists these days are looking for interesting things to mix with new cocktails, and we’re kind of helping them meet that need by offering a unique product,” Sweeney said. “What I’ve had some of the more popular mixologists in California and Miami say is that this really makes vodka cool again.”
The flavor of Humboldt’s Finest is very similar to that of gin, with a taste that leans heavily on the side of herbal and floral. It has a mild and inviting nose, and upon the first sip, you’re immediately hit with the nice earthy flavor of the sativa with the slightest hint of what tastes like celery. Only after letting the flavors rest and swallowing the spirit does the little burn of the vodka set in.
Humboldt’s Finest would be best suited in something equally herbal and savory like a bloody mary or a thyme-based cocktail. Stevens said it can also replace gin in most gin cocktails. It’s a pleasantly versatile flavored vodka that shines a light on how successful and notable vodka infusion can actually be.