WE go to great lengths to try new Vodkas. At the end of the day, many on the market are very similar. They are made largely from the same ingredients, differentiated by distilling processes which most distillers try to sell the client that their method is truly different from the others. Ocean Vodka (click on link for website) also differentiates itself……but, they truly do have a different approach than most we have seen.
Distilled on Maui, Hawaii, this vodka is made out of sugar cane. Most vodkas are distilled from grain or potatoes. Given this, I was greatly interested to try this vodka when offered by a local sales rep in Wisconsin who represents the distributor of the vodka for the local region selling restaurants and bars in the southern Wisconsin area (thank you Ashley). I was a bit skeptical given this made from sugar cane. This is not a rum, after all. But I tasted the offering several times to make sure that it was consistent in its taste, no matter what I thought of it. True to form, it was very consistent, and very smooth. The effects of the sugar cane stood up upon first taste. On first sip, it proved to be very smooth and a comforting taste, if not a bit tropical. I understand that sounds a bit cliche, but in the end, this product is made out of sugar cane. And that ends up being its differentiation from other vodkas. The taste begins very smooth and even. After swishing in the mouth a bit, a very stealthy sweetness presents itself. Hence the sugar cane. This may take some getting used to for those of you used to grain or potato based vodka offerings. But this works. It really does. The drinking experience is very consistent throughout. The main criticism one could levy on this product is that it does not taste quite like vodka. Perhaps, pure vodka drinkers who adore the grain or potato based products may not enjoy this vodka as much. I tend to be in this category, but I went in with an open mind. The vodka is definitely refreshing. If anything, the fact that I was in Wisconsin in the winter time tasting and reviewing this product was a draw back. I see this product as a great refreshing vodka for outdoor gatherings in the south, even when maybe it is a bit too hot to be outside. Cool off with Ocean, and you will nearly, (I said nearly) forget that it is really too warm to be outside.
The one area I did not like is the packaging. Please let me explain. While the packaging itself is OK and it definitely represents the branding they are trying to achieve, the fact that this vodka competes directly in price and placement with the Belvedere’s and Grey Gooses of life makes it more of a tough sell. And while they are branded appropriately for thier product, I question that their packaging can compete in the premium market. Now I know most of you do not drink vodka based upon the packaging. Hell, if that were the case, none of us would drink Kettle One. But I do pay attention to packaging and product placement. And Ocean, in my opinion does not do well here. They could so carry the brand and its uniqueness with so much more.
Another area which Ocean will try to sell you is the fact that their product is made naturally and gluten free. OK. Fair enough. I must admit that I do not suffer from whatever ails those who flock to Gluten Free, but the people at Ocean evidently believe there is a market for this accordingly. Again, setting aside all of the marketing, this product does well in the taste test. I am unconcerned with the other market hooks. I believe those of you who try this with an open mind will appreciate this vodka.