Image: Jenn Pentland
Summer is approaching and it's time to dust off the yard furniture, fire up the grill (or better yet the solar cooker), and bask in the (hopefully seasonal) warmth of the season. And while there's nothing better on a lazy summer day than a cold brew, we TreeHuggers are not averse to a fruity cocktail, or a shot of tequila for that matter. And luckily for us there are a few visionary spirit makers out there that have committed themselves to offering us tipplers a greener choice. Read on for a list of four green spirits that are all certified organic, reasonably priced, and available throughout the country.
Prairie Organic Vodka
Prairie Organic Vodka is made by a coop of 900 organic farmers in Minnesota. When I tasted a shot of Prairie on the rocks I was pleasantly surprised by it's smooth and sweet flavor. When TreeHugger Kristin posted on Prairie vodka she wrote a great overview of how this product goes beyond its certified organic status.
The #2 yellow corn is organic, and, "the growing process cannot use genetically modified seeds, artificial fertilizers, hormones, weed controllers, or pesticides." In fact, Prairie states that this method costs more than twice the normal method used by conventional farmers. The distillery itself also has Oregon Tilth organic certification, meaning every step in the distillation process has passed strict requirements for organic production.
All "garbage" corncobs are turned into biogas for powering the stills, and any leftover grains are returned to the farmers for livestock feed. The vodka is also certified kosher by the The Orthodox Union, with the understanding that once a product is certified kosher, it will adhere to those standards throughout its lifetime of production.
Kristin also mentioned Prairie's website, calling it "creepy". It looks to me like the site has been overhauled and has evolved into something much more smooth, which reflects the vodka.
Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky
This blended scotch whisky claims to be the world's first blended organic scotch. Certified by both the Soil Association and CCOF in the U.S., we first brought you news of Highland Harvest in '06 when Justin Thomas wrote:
Highland Harvest Organic Grain Whisky is a blend of three grain whiskies (highland, island and Speyside) and a highland malt. They are matured together in Scotland for four years. The result is a whisky with a light taste and notes of pine and fruit. According to an article in the Scotsman that came out last year, the process of making organic whisky is different because the organic producers use natural yeast instead of cultivated yeast.
This results in a whisky that is sweeter and less harsh. It's probably not going to replace your aged single malt anytime soon but whisky may be the spirit in which the use of organic grains results in the largest taste difference.
TRU Organic Spirits
We told you about Tru Organic Vodka last year along with all the great things the company is doing to help mitigate their impact. Here's fellow TreeHugger Sara's rundown on Tru's climate friendly deeds.
TRU Organic Vodka promises to plant a tree for every purchase. Working with organizations like Sustainable Harvest International, the company plants a tree for every bottle of TRU purchased.
Other TRU Organic Green Features
According to TRU Organic, at 620 grams, the bottles use 25 percent less glass than the average spirit bottle. Labels are printed on corn fiber with soy-based inks. The company also uses recyclable synthetic corks.
The company also boasts that packaging boxes simply fold on themselves, eliminating packing tape and incorporating 35 percent post-consumer waste. The company prints marketing materials on various tree-free or recycled stocks and uses vegetable inks whenever possible.
Tru also offers Organic Gin. Along with all the above noted green karma points this distinct spirit is infused with 14 aromatic botanicals. Along with the requisite juniper, the other flavors are lavender, lemon zest, angelica root, orris root, coriander seeds, cardamom, vanilla beans, cloves, fennel, cinnamon, allspice, chamomile and star anise. All of these blend together to form a complex and intense flavour that I found best sipped on the rocks.
Papagayo Organic Rum
My summer drink of choice is rum and anything, so I was excited to find out about Papagayo organic rum. Although I haven't had a chance to taste it yet, I'd snap it up on site, mainly because along with being certified organic it's also fairly traded.
According to the promo material for Papagayo the sugar for the rum is grown in Paraguay in the "underdeveloped region of Arroyos y Esteros" by a community of small sugar farmers.
Today, more than 800 of these families are committed to producing organic sugarcane and the benefits are twofold: the farmers receive a better price for their cane and the environment is preserved via organic farming methods. Farmers are given education in production, harvesting and transportation benefit from funds sent by the International Fair Trade Association.
The Beverage Tasting Institute rated it an 87 (highly recommended) and commented that it is "an interesting white that really borders on being a spiced rum, but should work well with cola."