April 20, 2012 / 10:59 PM / 5 years ago

Alaska distillery makes hemp-flavored vodka for "pot day"

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Fresh on liquor store shelves, in time for an unofficial holiday celebrating marijuana use, is a new vodka distilled in Alaska with hemp seed - but it won't give drinkers a pot-induced high.

Wasilla-based Alaska Distillery this week introduced "Purgatory," which it says is the world's only vodka distilled with the seed associated with the marijuana plant.

"For 4/20, it's a great alternative because it's legal," said Bella Coley, chief operating officer for the micro-distillery.

Among cannabis users, "420" is code for consumption of the drug, and April 20 is treated as a high holiday in the subculture.

The company uses only sterile hemp seeds, imported from Canada, that contain none of the chemical THC, Coley said.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient that gives marijuana its high.

The product has also been cleared by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and each batch is sent to the DEA to ensure the absence of even traces of THC.

Purgatory Vodka plays on Alaska's image as an individualistic frontier state, with a history of more permissive laws governing marijuana, hemp and privacy.

While there are other vodkas with added hemp seeds, Purgatory is the only one distilled with them, the company said.

Alaska Distillery has also made vodkas with locally grown potatoes and grains, and others flavored with smoked salmon, rhubarb, and Alaska high-bush cranberry.

Wasilla is best known as the home of Sarah Palin, a former Alaska governor and the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 elections.

Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh

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