Dustin Detherow is a young 40-something engineer from Claremore who worked his way up to Vice President of Ross Group Engineering.
A few years ago he decided to take on another challenge — vodka.
The journey began as the brain child of Julian Joy, of Jenks, now President and CEO of Twisted Spiritz.
On a shared car ride to visit a client in Oklahoma City, Joy told Detherow about his family history and his childhood dream.
“The liquor business is a part of my family history,” Joy said. “My grandfather, who passed earlier this year, ran a speakeasy from Myrtle Beach to Miami and my great grandfather and great uncle were notorious rum runners during prohibition.”
As a teenager Joy wanted to open a speakeasy with my grandfather that would have a big band orchestra and replicate the 20s in Atlanta. His grandfather told him to spend five years in restaurant management and get back with him.
“I got a job waiting tables at The Macaroni Grill ... I never quite made it to manager,” Joy said.
Years later, retelling his aspiration from the passenger seat, the men began to exchange thoughts on distillation techniques and facility design.
“When Julian approached me with the idea to start our own spirits brand that would culminate with the design and construction of our own distillery, it was too good to pass up,” Detherow said.
Within the next few weeks, Detherow took a shot and committed to becoming investor and Chief Operations Officer when they built their own distillery.
“Dustin has contributed as an investor, consultant, brand representative and a friend throughout the process,” Joy said.
“As a chemical engineer, fermenting and distilling alcohol has been a dream occupation since my college days at the University of Tulsa,” Detherow said. “I’ve spent the last 18 years designing and constructing oil and gas distillation equipment and it’s exciting to get to apply that knowledge and experience in a different environment.”
They haven’t built their own distillery yet, producing their product out of a distillery in Florida, but Joy and Detherow are well on their way with plans to increase their product range and open their own place in Oklahoma within the next few years.
Currently their only product is “II” (pronounced "two"), a premium craft vodka made with coconut water. This brand will be getting an upgrade in September and will become “II Palms”.
“We envision having multiple lines of products and creating some new products that haven’t been done before,” Joy said. “We have completed the formulation for our premium rum with all-natural coconut flavor and coconut water and are completing our botanical hibiscus gin with coconut water and intend to bring those both to market early next spring.”
They have begun the licensing process and hope to determine by the end of the year. Joy said they are hoping for a reversal of Governor Fallin’s veto on a bill that would have allowed a liquor distillery to offer tours and tastings.
Twisted Spiritz prides itself on creativity and precision.
“All the spirits we will produce under our current brand will include the use of coconut water. Our vodka is a corn-based spirit and uses coconut water during the cut or deproofing process,” Joy said. “What we have created is one of the smoothest vodkas on the shelves today and, rightly so, is considered an ultra-premium craft vodka.”
Other than the viscosity variances between potato, grain or corn, what is used in the cut is really what creates the nuance of the spirit and differentiates vodkas, Joy explained.
“We are not the first one to pioneer this concept on a national level, but we intend to use filtered coconut water in most all our products. We also have some other concepts where we will be paving new lanes in the industry,” he said.
Organic, non-gmo coconut water is not the only thing that sets Twisted Spiritz apart. Detherow’s engineering talent is on full display in the exactness guaranteed at each level of production.
“Not only is our corn mash distilled six times, but we take great pride in the reduction of unwanted materials during the distillation process and have very specific resting periods that add to the balance of the finished product,” Joy said
Twisted Spiritz hopes to be a nationwide brand within the first 8 years.
“This is a lofty goal, but we believe this is achievable as we recently became a part of the Southern Glazers portfolio of brands,” Joy said. Southern Glazers is one of the largest distributors in North America.
Locally, II Vodka is sold at Spirits of 66, Bottle Shack, Barrel House, Wine Down Spirit, Blue Starr Liquor and J Farley’s Pub.
“Our brand is about celebrating life, re-calibrating priorities, experiencing moments where the spirit in your hand enhances those moments of enjoyment with loved ones, friends and colleagues,” Joy said. “Our tagline is ‘II Moments that Matter’. When people think of our brand, we want them to think of that moment when you wake up on vacation, no work, no stress and stop for just a moment and soak in the beauty that surrounds you.”
“As with starting any business, it takes a lot of effort, time and money to get started,” Joy said. But, “getting people to try us once is the only hard part. Once they have, we gain a new fan and that’s what matters to us.”
Fans can follow them on social media for updates on new product releases and the big moving announcement.
“I think the sky is the limit and I could not be prouder that we started it all right here in my home state of Oklahoma.”, Detherow said.