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That’s the Spirit

With the aid of coconut water, Twisted Spiritz has developed a blend of taste and smoothness with II Vodka that people can enjoy without the typical burn that comes from drinking some vodka neat.

Gina Conroy
Marc Rains
April 28, 2018

Since the 1970s, vodka, that colorless spirit that’s a crowd favorite for its versatility and ability to mix well in almost any drink has been entrenched in American drinking habits. Some vodka lovers may enjoy sipping the flavored varieties that come infused with lemon, raspberry, black currant or vanilla. Perhaps, if you’re a seasoned drinker and can afford to pay top dollar for those posh premium vodkas, you may drink it straight on occasion. But sipping unflavored vodka neat? Not so much for many.

Trying to change that mindset is locally owned and operated Twisted Spiritz, which has been on a mission to find the right components to create an easy drinking vodka affordable to the masses.

“We wanted to create a vodka people can enjoy like a bourbon, where you have that lovely warmth, the weight of the spirit in the mouth without the typical burn,” says Julian Joy, CEO of Twisted Spiritz.

And the secret to the smoothness: coconut water. Coconut water is the clear liquid inside the unripe coconut fruit. As the coconut matures and ripens, this liquid solidifies and becomes part of the sweet, white coconut flesh that we eat raw as a snack or use, often grated, in cooking and baking. And whether you think coconut water is a fad or fantastic, it has been touted as being the purest liquid second to water itself and is said to have numerous health benefits ranging from digestive support to relieving urinary problems and keeping diabetes under control.

“When Julian approached me with the idea to start our own brand that would culminate in the design and construction of our own commercial distillery, it was too good to pass up,” says Dustin Detherow, a chemical and mechanical engineer who also serves as Twisted Spiritz’s COO.

After four months and 41 attempts to find the perfect blend of taste and smoothness, the result was II Vodka.

After four months and 41 attempts to find the perfect blend of taste and smoothness, the result was II Vodka. (Photo: Marc Rains)
After four months and 41 attempts to find the perfect blend of taste and smoothness, the result was II Vodka. (Photo: Marc Rains)

“We want to offer something that accentuates moments that matter while enjoying time with friends, family and loved ones,” says Joy. “The liquor business is a part of my family history.” Joy’s grandfather ran a speakeasy in Miami and Orlando, and his great-grandfather was an avid rum-runner during Prohibition.

As a teenager, Joy remembers discussing opening a speakeasy with his grandfather that would replicate the concept of the Roaring ‘20s in Atlanta with a big band orchestra.

“I was hoping he’d finance the idea,” says Joy. But his grandfather recommended he spend five years in restaurant management first. “I got a job waiting tables at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. That lasted a few months,” says Joy.

With his original dream seemingly gone and only three years of moderate success chasing oil and gas deals, Joy opted to leverage his passion and creativity by starting a brand.

So, what makes Twisted Spiritz’ II Vodka so smooth? The secret just may be in the sauce. Or more accurately, the coconut water.

“Other than the viscosity variances between potato, grain or corn, what is used in the cut is what creates the nuance of the spirit and differentiates vodkas,” says Joy. “We believe coconut water provides a level of smoothness to the finish unparalleled by any other vodka near our price point.”

Distilled six times to create an ultra-pure product, II Vodka is then put through another process that involves filtering coconut water to remove any flavor without losing the electrolyte profile of the water.

“The water we blend our coconut water with is first distilled, deionized, and then run through a reverse osmosis process,” says Joy. “This allows only the nuance of the coconut water to remain. Filtering the vodka one more time after adding the coconut water, an ultra-smooth product is the result, with little to no alcohol burn.”

Joy admits they are not the first to pioneer this concept; however, they intend to use filtered coconut water in most of their products.

Although the II brand is the company’s first consumer product, they believe other concepts will pave new lanes in the industry. “We’re already exploring blending a rosé with vodka, offering some unique flavored vodkas, a rum line, a tropical botanical gin, and whiskey as the long play,” says Joy.

According to pre-sales tours, II Vodka has been well received. “The Oklahoma restaurants and bars are supportive and are suggesting II Vodka will replace other, more popular brands,” says Joy.

Among some of the over 200 restaurants that serve II Vodka include local favorites Pure Food and Juice, Inner Circle Vodka Bar, Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, Waterfront Grill, Yokozuna, Main Street Tavern and Louie’s Bar & Grill. “We’re also in Texas, Colorado, and Wisconsin and looking to expand further,” he says.

Carried in most liquor stores for about $24.99 a bottle, II Vodka allows premium lovers the opportunity to enjoy a better product without breaking the bank.