Ocean Vodka: Celebrating Spirits, Sustainability and Love

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Agriculture, Maui, Sustainability | 5 comments

Ocean Vodka: Celebrating Spirits, Sustainability and Love

When thinking about a gathering place to celebrate vodka, I usually think of a cool new bar or a neighborhood watering hole, such as the beloved Cheers, from the TV show of the same name, where everyone knows your name. I rarely think of sustainability visionaries, eco-consciousness or community outreach. Yet, this weekend my perception changed with the grand opening of Maui’s Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery, an exciting showcase of green business, sustainable agriculture and loads of local love.

Ocean Vodka, justifiably touted as the “best handcrafted vodka in the world,” is truly delicious. The company uses organically farmed sugar cane blended with deep ocean mineral water and a distilling process powered by the sun. Sprawled across 80 acres on the volcanic slopes of Haleakala, in the tranquil agricultural community of Kula in upcountry Maui, Hawaii (just down the road from my home), the farm includes waving fields of sugar cane varieties, a solar-powered craft distillery and bottling room, gift shop, and a Martini Garden, featuring a bubbling fountain surrounded by fledgling herb plants that will one day enhance the vodka. With the captivating tag line “the only spirit in the world made with the sun, ocean and organic earth,” what’s not to like?

Perhaps what I actually like best is their story—it’s local and it’s good: Ocean Vodka is the result of a labor of love, the leadership of Shay Smith (president), the dedication of the Smith family, some obvious business smarts, great partners, a commitment to ocean conservation, and a lot of brawn. That’s real spirit!

Roxanne Tiffin, owner of Kula Fields, a local Maui organic farm and delivery service, celebrating Ocean Vodka opening with husband Jesse.

Roxanne Tiffin, owner of Kula Fields, a local Maui organic farm and delivery service, celebrating Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery’s grand opening with husband Jesse.

At their grand opening, the Ocean Vodka team honored and embraced the Maui community through a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony, local musicians, teenagers offering exhilarating Taiko drumming, and steady servings of crispy pork, a local favorite. On the social media site Twitter, the  OceanVodka handle (username) was busy all day with visitors posting pictures and sharing their impressions. The real spirit of aloha was shown that day—the farm gate and distillery doors were thrown open wide for everyone to visit, take a tour, learn about the process, get to know one another and talk story. And that’s a good thing, because there was much to talk about. 

Feature Photo: Ocean Vodka President Shay Smith describes the sustainable distilling process for making organic vodka. 


  1. Sounds amazing…I’ll have to swing by with my hubby soon! Aloha~Jen

    • Hi Jen, it is. A drive to the farm would make a great day outing. Be sure to save some time to chat with members of the Smith family, as they are really special!

  2. Great post Suzanne!

    • Thanks, Courtney. Perhaps some inspiration came from your excellent Maui Jungalow blog posts!

  3. It really is a great story.

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