Photo: Is there organic in your vodka?

Eco-friendlier spirits—vodka goes organic. (Credit: Lorien Schramm)

My relationship with vodka: add two teaspoons to ¼ cup of sparkling water and 25 drops of essential oil. Voila—body spray (or air freshener)!

Lorien Schramm of Pemberton Distillery answers questions about organic spirits:

What's organic vodka?

There are many types of vodka—for neutral mixing or complex sipping, grain- or potato-based, and more.

For organics, the certification body that inspects the distillery's entire chain of production annually must appear on the label. (Ours is the B.C. Pacific Agricultural Certification Society.) All raw materials—potatoes and malted barley—are not genetically modified. They're grown, harvested and stored without herbicides, fertilizers, or long-life chemicals (e.g. sprout inhibitor sprays commonly used on conventional potatoes). Production is done without chemical or synthetic additives or the commercially grown enzymes and silicone-based anti-foam agents common in conventional brewing, distilling, and wine making.

Subscribe to the Queen of Green digest

Environmental benefits of organic spirits?

Organic agriculture and processing methods reduce waste, toxic runoff, and prevent air and water contamination. Products don't contain chemicals or synthetic additives.

Price of organic vodka?

Prices range widely and depend more on the production scale of the distillery and the region's liquor taxes than the cost of organic ingredients. Large industrial operations (most global brands) can make organic spirits for much less than craft distilleries that produce small volumes by hand.

Most distilleries don't charge extra for organic spirits because people aren't aware of the benefits— definitely behind organic beer and wine when it comes to consumer awareness and preference. This is changing as more people discover sensitivities to chemical and synthetic additives used in conventional spirits.

Pemberton Distillery organic potato vodka retails for $50 in B.C.—primarily a function of the tax markup on spirits (170 per cent plus HST and Federal Excise tax).

Homemade organic vodka?

Home distilling for the purpose of making alcohol is not permitted in Canada. Like beer, vodka is made by fermenting starch (grain, fruit, potatoes, etc.) and then distilling it. A mistake can cause blindness and even death.

Vodka infusion recipe?

Try making your own infusions with fruit or herbs like lemon zest, cherries, hot peppers, lavender flowers, or cinnamon. Here's Lorien's recipe for vanilla vodka (without added sugar and artificial flavouring):

750 ml organic vodka
3-4 whole organic vanilla beans, sliced lengthwise to expose the seeds

Add vanilla beans to vodka. Store in a cool, dark place for two weeks. Shake gently periodically. Test a sample every few days to decide infusion intensity. Strain out vanilla beans with a coffee filter.

Is there organic whiskey?

Only a handful of organic whiskies are made worldwide. At Pemberton Distillery we produce a Single Malt Whisky made from organic barley grown and malted in B.C. It's aging in ex-bourbon casks—ready in 2013.

Comment on this blog and win a bottle of organic vanilla extract courtesy of Pemberton Distillery! Congrats to Yolanda, our winner!

What's your favourite organic beverage?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

February 13, 2012

Read more

Post a comment


Feb 22, 2012
5:03 PM

We have two winners! A random number draw means Rhett and Yolanda win a bottle of organic vanilla extract courtesy of Pemberton Distillery. Thanks for playing and please ask all of your friends to subscribe

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

Feb 19, 2012
3:40 PM

I'm surprised my other comment wasn't printed.

Don't you think it's important to push the BC government for change? If liquor regulations cause massive wastes of fuel, isn't that important to put emphasis on?

Feb 18, 2012
12:44 AM

A friend of mine told me about these guys this past summer. I tried the vodka and liked it.

Feb 17, 2012
10:19 PM

The vanilla vodka recipe sounds like it would be a delicious digestif. (Everything is easier to digest when you know you've made a more socially and environmentally responsible choice.) I suppose the vanilla pods could also be fair trade.

Feb 17, 2012
7:42 PM

My favorite organic libation will be….Shelter Point Scotch…when it is finally ready to consume. Shelter Point if located between Courtenay and Campbell River.

I also make Lemoncello with my cousin's recipe form Bassano del Grappa….it basically is an infused Vodka using lemon peels, lemon verbena, sugar etc…… far superior to ANY of the brands sold in the BC liquor stores! Questo e molto buono!

Feb 17, 2012
3:08 PM

ah, and i forgot to mention that my current favourite organic alcoholic beverage is SOUTHBROOK biodynamic red wine (VQA, made in Ontario, and available at the LCBO for $14.95CAD for those that reside or will pass through this province!) ..interestingly enough, when i first searched for local organic wines at the liquor store (coincidentally just last week!) i inquired about other organic spirits besides wine, and according to 2 separate (and senior position appearing!) staff they claimed there weren't any available thank you Lindsey, David, et al. for confirming that organic whiskey and the like actually does exist for public enjoyment! ..just got to figure out how to get my hands on some since the LCBO stores (to my knowledge) are not carrying any!

cheers! :) eugenia jean

Feb 17, 2012
2:54 PM

MIss Queen of Green, David Suzuki, and the rest of the FOUNDATION ..thank you all for continuously sharing the wonderful information and inspiration is MORE than appreciated ..most of the sharing i do of your posts happens on the group page ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH CONSCIOUSNESS ··· and for those interested in viewing/joining please visit:

sincerely, Eugenia Jean

Feb 17, 2012
12:36 PM

Schramm Vodka is my fave… but I also cant wait to try the Gin, and of course the Whiskey in 2013

Feb 13, 2012
3:59 PM

Schramm gin and vodka are my faves!

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »