Montana-made Meili Vodka set to make rounds in Jamaica
When it comes to Vodka, big names like Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Absolut and Skyy come to mind. Now, there’s a new brand on the spirits scene already tapping into the international market and looking to make its round in Jamaica. Light, crisp, smooth with sweet notes and refreshing to the taste, the name is Meili Vodka and The Gleaner got a chance to learn more about the line from the company’s co-owners, Blaine Halvorson and Hollywood actor Jason Momoa.
The first question was why come to the islands and launch in Jamaica? That answer was met with another question, ‘Why not Jamaica?’
“Jason and I want to share Meili with the entire world! So what better place than Jamaica? We’ve been fortunate to have some really incredible support and friends out there who are aligned with our mission to bring Meili to the masses! Paul Williams of GladMar Group, which is distributed by Celebrity Brands, was so passionate about Meili that he convinced us to accelerate the timing of our launch in the Caribbean,” Halvorson told Food in a recent interview.
According to Momoa, the duo, who have been friends for over a decade, realised that vodka was missing the spirit element. “Blaine and I noticed that Vodka was considered an ingredient; not a spirit. We both preferred our drinks neat and enjoyed the simplicity of that process. No one was doing that with Vodka, so we decided to change that,” he explained.
This discovery opened a window of opportunity to put their shared desire into play. “The idea of Meili was born around the perfect sipping vodka; something so pure and incredible that you didn’t need to mix or mask the flavour to enjoy. A spirit that would hold its own no matter how it was served; warm, cold, mixed or neat. Something everyone from all walks of life could savour and appreciate. That’s Meili; the perfect neutral spirit. We both didn’t like vodkas before. So, we spent eight years crafting this magical spirit our way. Now it’s all we sip.”
The product’s most important ingredient is water. After all, water is life and it is integral as it relates to vodka. The team opted to select the purest water supply in Montana where Halvorson was born and raised.
“My father actually found us the water source. It’s this stunning 300-million-year-old aquifer formation in Bozeman, Montana, that delivers snow and alpine rain miles through underground caverns until it arrives at its final destination in the form of a natural spring. The minerality, PH balance, and temperature are perfect for making Vodka. And, it actually supplies the local town with water completely untreated. No filters, no chlorine, no chemicals. It’s one of the purest water sources available in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” Halvorson said.
He explains further, “We distil and proof our spirits to bottle with this same water, so immediately, you’re getting something entirely different than any other spirit right off the bat. Combine this with our hand-selected grains from our local farms, distilled only once, and you have an exceptional vodka. This leaves the smallest carbon footprint, which is important to Jason and I. And the flavour is bright, smooth, and effortless with just a hint of sweetness that occurs naturally. You can taste all the ingredients and appreciate them.”
But no company operates without its fair share of challenges. The biggest obstacle, so far, has been the sustainability aspect and producing their 100 per cent recycled glass bottles. “This was no easy task, but it was important for us to make sure that we honoured the earth.”
According to Momoa, Meili, pronounced ‘MAY-lee’, is Nordic and it means mile stepper and the deity of travel. “In many other cultures, Meili translates to ‘the lovely one’. So, it checks all the boxes. Meili Martini, Bloody Meili, Meili Mule; it just rolls off the tongue.”
Since releasing almost a year ago, the response has been incredible. “We want to change the way people see Vodka,” Halvorson said, adding, “We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve created, and we want to share a toast with the rest of the world and celebrate everything that goes into this beautiful spirit.”
For Momoa, the focus is on global expansion. “There’s a beauty to travelling the world, meeting new friends and sharing a glass around a table, or fire, or mountaintop. We want to bring the world that perfect sippable spirit that can be enjoyed by everyone across the globe.”