Hemp vodka with anti-inflammatory properties
From its humble origins in a horse barn to flourishing sales in three states, Texas' first hemp vodka distillery has, in just a few short years, become one of the fastest growing distilleries in the United States. United. Their last stop? Austin, Texas.
Highway Vodka, founded by partners Ben Williams and Wendell Robbins III, is available for sale at over 25 retailers in Austin, as well as in cities in Texas, Georgia, Florida and California. The distillery business is growing almost too quickly, Ben Williams said they are looking to slow down a bit before they are scattered.
“We don't have any outside investors or anything like that, so I want to make sure I know what I'm doing,” Williams said.
So why hemp? The use of CBD is illegal in the distillation process, so the only effects that the ingredient really adds to the mix are anti-inflammatory properties.
Hemp comes into play more in the distillation process itself. When experimenting with the ingredient in the initial stages, Williams and Robbins found that hemp acts as a 'super fuel' for yeast when it converts the sugar from its other main ingredient, corn, into alcohol ( which also adds a slightly sweet taste). The plant that helps make Mary Jane also helps "limit negative effects" by helping to form an oily layer on top that protects the product from outside influences. The result, according to Williams, is a smoother vodka that won't make the next morning so painful.
“Adding hemp isn't a matter of taste at all,” Williams said. “I'm my own crash test dummy, so I know that even though I drank too much the night before, I won't have that headache that I might have otherwise. "
The Highway journey began eight years ago in a horse barn in Houston when the two pals decided to start experimenting with spirits as a hobby. After nine years of trial and error and "a lot of booze," the thriving business has seen a 500% year-over-year increase.
When asked if he expected to see this kind of growth in the near term, Williams simply said 'no'. Now that the business is booming, however, Williams sees the business expand nationwide in the next few years after taking a minute to regroup.
Robbins' daughter, Codi Fuller, has already started to receive the inheritance; at 26, she became one of the only black women to distill in the United States in taking over the distillery.