Since introducing its vodka to consumers earlier this year, Twister Distillery has discovered the thirst Oklahomans have for locally made liquor.
Demand for Twister products has been strong, owner Garrett Janko says. Twister vodka and sweet tea vodka first hit liquor store shelves in February. In just two months, sales exceeded the Moore company's first year goal of 500 cases. The products can be found in about 300 liquor stores across the state, and Janko is hoping to extend that reach, though it's been a challenge.
“Trying to get somebody to put in a new vodka, even though it's made in Oklahoma, is like trying to get a Chevy dealership to carry a new car,” he said.
Janko said Twister Vodka is on par with Stolichnaya and costs about $13 a bottle. It's also carried at several restaurants, including Cafe Nova and Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill.
The distillery, in a Moore industrial park, is the state's first to produce spirits since 2009, when Old Russia — Oklahoma's first legal distillery — ceased production. Another distillery, Prairie Wolf Spirits, has begun production from its Guthrie location and expects to release its vodka May 1.
Janko, whose great-grandparents operated a distillery in the Czech Republic, uses family recipes handed down for generations for his products, which will include gin, rum and whiskey once the spirits have aged.
Twister soon will introduce three flavors of moonshine — apple pie, Stratford peach and blackberry — sold in Mason jars, after hearing requests from Facebook fans. And the distillery is in the process of testing a cordial with a taste similar to Jagermeister.
Rye is the only grain used at Twister, and Janko sources nearly all ingredients locally, including the rye, spices and fruits.
“Oklahoma is just crazy, crazy, crazy into made in Oklahoma,” he said.
Though a tasting room was part of the original business plan, Janko said it was too difficult to obtain the necessary licensing and permits, so the distillery isn't open to the public.
Construction on the Prairie Wolf Spirits distillery in Guthrie wrapped up about a month and a half ago, and the business began producing its vodka, owner Hunter Merritt said. Wholesalers can begin picking up the product May 1, and it will be in liquor stores shortly after.
The family-owned distillery is focusing on producing a pure, unflavored vodka, Merritt said.
“Instead of having lemon-flavored vodka, we'd like people to buy our vodka and squeeze fresh lemon juice in it,” he said.
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