These Brewers Get Prickly

Just when you thought vodka mavens might have run out of ideas comes High Spirits Prickly Pear Vodka, Arizona's finest.

The first distillery in the state is believed to be producing the only such vodka on the globe. Co-owners Dave Williamson and Dana Kanzler decided to branch out at their Flagstaff micro-brewery, Mogollon Brewing Co., because the beer business had been going a little flat.

As the Arizona Republic newspaper noted, "For Williamson, 48, and Kanzler, 39, a 3 1/2-year struggle to get their $115,000 state-of-the-art German still legalized and approved for human consumption is almost over. The partners are one small federal approval away from stocking their product in liquor stores and supermarkets across the country."

"We should be in the stores sometime in November," Williamson, a former liquor salesman, told the newspaper.

The still can produce up to 5,000 six-bottle cases a month for their Arizona High Spirits brand. The initial product will be the 70-proof prickly pear vodka, a slightly sweet, pale pink vodka. Next will come a more traditional 80-proof vodka and a mesquite-smoked whiskey called Lawless Arizona Sippin' Shine.

Their goal: a slice of the $25-$30 per bottle high-end market that has been growing rapidly in recent years.

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