By Christian Price, News9.com INsite Team
Oklahoma is known for its agriculture, Native American history, and its tornadoes. The state is not known for its vodka production. However, a Russian distillery based in Oklahoma City wants to change that.
In 1995, a family trip to Latvia would set off a series of events that ultimately changed liquor laws in Oklahoma.
Marc Spain, co-owner of Old Russia Distillery, recalls the first time he met his wife's family.
"My wife's Russian. Back in 1995 we went to go visit her family. Her father, Simyon Metore, said, ‘Come here. I want to show you something,' " Spain said.
Mr. Metore took Spain to a back room of the house and showed him the Metore homemade still. He told Spain that the vodka available in Latvia was not very good. He used the still to make the drink bearable.
"They have two pipes coming out of the same tank," Spain said. "One pipe goes to cars, and the other pipe goes into your jar that you take home."
A couple of years later, Spain came across a magazine article about a man who had his own still in California. The man made several types of products at his distillery. Spain was instantly intrigued.
Eventually coming up with his own business plan, Spain overcame a number of hurdles before his product began to flow. Spain's biggest hurdle was history-there had never been a distillery in the state of Oklahoma.
"Between the Fed's and the state, we had to help them modify a few forms, because no one had ever filled out the forms for a distillery [in Oklahoma]," Spain said. "We were the first legal distillery in the state."
Once the proper paperwork was filled out and the still was established, all that was left was to start creating. And the creations have paid off. The vodka from the Old Russia distillery is award-winning.
"Our Old Russia Heritage won gold in the Chicago Tasting Institute," said Spain. "Our lemon [flavor] won silver, and our orange flavor won silver."
According to Spain, he thinks many people enjoy his vodka because of how smooth it is.
"We consider our vodka a sipping vodka. There's no edge to it." Spain said, "If you just like drinking vodka straight, you'll be amazed by the difference. If you like mixed drinks, you'll be able to taste your drinks."
The next step for Old Russia Distillery is to start selling nationally. Named after Spain's father-in-law, Metore's premium vodka is ready to make Oklahoma known for its vodka.