Eco-booze, eco-buzz

Going green
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  June 11, 2008

Why drink organic booze? Aside from all the reasons I outlined in my green-beer column last month (example: fewer pesticides means healthier farms and healthier humans), there might be a more practical reason: fewer, or less-aggressive, hangovers. As someone who suffers from mean mornings-after, this is great news.

Some medical experts say that methanol — a toxin, and a byproduct of alcohol fermentation — makes for more intense hangovers because it breaks down in our bodies as (toxic) formic acid. There are small amounts of methanol in all alcoholic drinks, but you’ll find fewer in organic spirits. So, those higher-quality ingredients aren’t just saving the planet — they’re also saving my liver.

By far the most abundant organic alcohol is vodka. Two popular options are available at Downeast Beverage: 360 ($27.99) and RAIN ($19.99). 360 Vodka, which markets itself as “eco-luxury” vodka, is especially environmentally conscientious — its packaging is all green, right down to the bottle-closing clasp that can be returned to 360 (in the pre-paid envelope!) for re-use. Other organic vodkas are SQUARE ONE (founder and CEO Alison Evanow is now trying to get it listed for sale in Maine) and SUNSHINE, which is made in Vermont and available for $23.99 at And while their ingredients aren’t purely organic, top-notch COLD RIVER VODKA — available almost everywhere — gets sustainability points for its locally grown ingredients, including potatoes from Green Thumb Farms in southwestern Maine.

Unfortunately for me and my Irish roots, organic whiskeys are harder to find. The kind folks at the Benromach Distillery in Scotland sent me a sample of their BENROMACH ORGANIC SPEYSIDE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY, which is certified organic by the United Kingdom Soil Association. The distillery uses organic barley and yeast, and ages its product in American-made barrels made of wood from environmentally managed forests. Because Scotch whisky needs to age for at least three years before it can be bottled, Benromach must have foreseen this trend early — and lucky for us, because it’s smooth, oaky, sweet, and tastes delicious straight. Find it online at, for $60.99 per 750-ml bottle. Another Soil Association-certified Scottish organic whisky (it’s whiskey if it’s Irish) is HIGHLAND HARVEST, which uses three organic malts and an organic grain; it’s available at some online shops and is distributed in several states including Massachusetts.

The same people who make Highland Harvest (Maison Jomere Organic Spirits Company) are responsible for JUNIPER GREEN ORGANIC LONDON DRY GIN (which employs organic juniper berries and coriander to achieve that pine-tree smell), and PAPAGAYO ORGANIC SPICED RUM (supposedly, the organic sugarcane used in the fermentation process allows for a higher alcohol percentage). Both of these are available at several online liquor stores for between $25 and $50, and they’ve both achieved high marks from international beverage institutions.

Of course, you can’t combine organic liquor with corn-syrup-based chemicals; that’s where the MODMIX ORGANIC COCKTAIL MIXERS come in. With flavors like Citrus Margarita, French Martini (pineapple, raspberry, and a hint of lemon), Lavender Lemon Drop, Mojito, and Pomegranate Cosmopolitan, these USDA Organic-certified mixers match perfectly with the organic alcohol of your choice (and sound like the perfect accompaniment to a Sex and the City party). They’re available in Massachusetts and online at, where they go for $21.94 (including shipping and handling) for a 750-ml bottle.

What have I forgotten? Oh yes, that most crazy-making of liquors, tequila. 4 COPAS TEQUILA, which recently signed a distribution deal with Southern Wine & Spirits (which has a division in Maine), bills itself as the world’s only certified organic tequila. We can’t guarantee it’ll stop you from drunk-dialing or making an ass of yourself — but maybe you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling slightly more ready to face the day.

Deirdre Fulton can be reached

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