Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. When Charlotte Canzano’s fiancé received a shocking cancer diagnosis, they realized it was time to take action and make adjustments to their way of life. Between the disease and the treatment, Greg could no longer tolerate much of what he ate and drank. “We were changing everything about our diets,” Charlotte remembers of those days, years ago. For instance, the family began juicing for the nutritional benefits. This examination into what they were ingesting extended into the world of the spirits they sometimes enjoyed once Greg recovered. Beers and wines were loaded with sugars, and other alcohols were too heavy, so they turned to the vodka options available. Surely, they could find a way to produce smoother, purer quality vodka than what was out there. And so, the seed was planted that one day would yield Oysterville Vodka, a corn-based, smallbatch vodka that’s gluten free. “We got into vodka and began picking it apart,” Charlotte says.
A quick primer on vodka: It’s a distilled spirit that can be produced from a number of different sources like potatoes, wheat, barley, rye, or corn, as in the case of Oysterville Vodka. “The corn is just a little sweeter,” Charlotte points out. Due to that sweetness, the two most frequent taste reactions she receives from people are of a hint of vanilla or citrus. It’s a taste that was refined over the course of two years, once they found their distiller.
“We looked at a number of distilleries from all over,” Charlotte recalls. “We were looking for the lunatic who’s passionate about products that he or she makes.” Charlotte found a he and a she in the husband-and-wife team at Citrus Distillers, a distillery designed to help build new brand products. Located in West Palm Beach, Florida, Citrus Distillers produces and packages Oysterville Vodka with as little turn around time as a few weeks.
Wait, what? Oysterville Vodka is distilled where? Florida? This special vodka, with a label that harkens back to the former name of Osterville spelled out in nautical flags and with a watercolor of Cape Cod painted by Greg’s daughter Kiley, is in fact produced in Florida. It’s a detail that Charlotte is very up front about when promoting the spirit. Actually, the Cape Cod connection of Oysterville Vodka comes in the form of the owner herself. For generations, Charlotte’s family has called Osterville home. The family presence dates back to her great-grandparents. Growing up off Cape, Charlotte would summer in Osterville and remembers the difficulties that having such a large family in town could bring. “I couldn’t get away with anything!” Charlotte laughs. “Everything would get back to my family no matter what I did.” Now Osterville has been home year round for Charlotte, Greg, and their children since 2009.
After the years of testing and research, Oysterville Vodka had found its formula; now, it must find a following. “Everyone has been so helpful,” Charlotte states. She received strong feedback and encouragement from the tasters at L. Knife & Sons, the large liquor distributor located in Plymouth. Charlotte even got great support from the friendly folks over at the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. Wait, what? According to Charlotte, they were helpful and pleasant! “Maybe it’s because I kept calling with every little question saying, ‘I just don’t want to make a mistake!’”
With all the licenses and agreements in place, Oysterville Vodka was launched in September and it hasn’t stopped growing. Its distinctive squat, rounded-shoulder bottle with colorful label is now found at over 230 locations (bars, restaurants, and package stores) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A smaller 375 ml version is now making its way onto store shelves as well.
Oysterville Vodka is distilled six times and filtered three times, which creates a clean, extremely smooth taste that blends well with juices and sodas or served chilled straight up or even neat right out of the bottle…something not very many vodkas can deliver. Yes, you could make a Bloody Mary with Oysterville Vodka and, of course, it would be delicious. However, it would be like relegating Caruso to the chorus. Rare is the vodka that deserves a starring role, and Oysterville Vodka does just that.