Hemp and CBD products have become all the rage here in the Virgin Islands and around the country, and Flatley’s Spirits has joined the 420 parade with their hemp-infused vodka, gin and beer.
Although fairly new to the spirits distribution business, John Flatley has substantial experience in the food distribution business on St. Thomas with Flatley’s Foodservice. Opened in 2010, Flatley’s Foodservice was originally opened to provide a reliable source for fresh fish. As the business grew, so did its line of products, now offering dry-aged Wagyu, Kobe, Meyer and grass-fed beef cut to your specifications, wild game, caviar, foie gras, fine cheeses, rare spices and other gourmet and specialty items.
The aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes prompted Flatley to look at new opportunities and he added a new branch to his business, Flatley’s Spirits, distributing some novelty spirits such as hemp infused Nirvana vodka and gin and SweetWater beers.
“After the hurricanes, the food industry really slowed down drastically and then with COVID-19, everything slowed again and I was looking for an opportunity to continue to expand. I attended a food show in Orlando where Nirvana was displaying and I had the opportunity to taste it there and it intrigued me. This is so different.”
Both Nirvana vodka and Nirvana gin are organic, made with non-GMO ingredients and infused with ingredients from the cannabis sativa plant. Despite the hemp taste and aroma, the spirits do not contain any THC or CBD, so no special CBD licensing is required by retailers to carry them.
Flatley brought in his first pallets of Nirvana approximately a year ago. It can be found at bars and restaurants such as Tap and Still, the St. Thomas Yacht Club, Pie Whole, Ze Rock Pizza Kitchen and some service stations.
Flatley’s Spirits introduced SweetWater beer, brewed in Atlanta, to the island less than two weeks ago. They are offering four different SweetWater brews: SweetWater IPA and Hop Hash Easy IPA, as well as the hemp flavored 420 Strain G13 IPA and 420 Strain Mango Kush Wheat Ale. A Hazy IPA will be available on island in the coming weeks. One or more of these SweetWater beers can be found at Island Time Pub, Ze Rock, Doghouse Pub, Tap and Still, Enkai Sushi, Box Bar, B&R Restaurant, Brix, Sudi’s, Sea La Vie and Compass Rose, with more outlets to come. According to Flatley, the craft beer is currently being carried by Delta Airlines and outsold both Blue Moon and Miller Lite last year.
Nirvana and SweetWater are just the beginning for Flatley’s Spirits.
“We’re looking at new items all the time, other beers and liquors,” said Flatley. “We don’t want to jump into what current suppliers are doing. We’re trying to be a little different and go after products they don’t really push, niche market beers and unique liquors like the hemp vodka. We’re looking to expand pretty rapidly, honestly.”
“Particularly with the beer, this is very much our first offering,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Erin O’Rourke. “Once that’s kind of established, we’re looking at grocery stores and hotels and box stores. We’re getting a lot of great feedback from our current customers and potential new customers about what they want to see. Kind of in that same realm, we’re looking at a couple of other fun liquors and are in discussions with actual manufacturers.”