Viva Vivacity

Oregon’s first woman-owned distillery crafts small-batch spirits from organic, local ingredients

Caitlin Prueitt of Corvallis’ Vivacity Spirits
Caitlin Prueitt of Corvallis’ Vivacity Spirits

There’s a burgeoning trend throughout Oregon for food and drinks that are locally sourced and handcrafted, and since 2011, Corvallis-based Vivacity Spirits has been sating consumers’ desire for organic non-GMO small-batch gins, vodka, rum and liqueur. Owned and operated by Caitlin Prueitt and her partner and spouse, Chris Neumann, Vivacity is not only the first woman-owned distillery in Oregon, but also one of only a handful nationwide.

“Distilling is kind of a boys’ club,” says Prueitt, who learned her trade while completing a rigorous nutrition and food science program at OSU. “It’s a male-oriented industry. I think it’s fully changing, but not quickly.”

Yet Prueitt says Vivacity has received a warm welcome to the micro-distilling community. “The people we’ve come across have been helpful, encouraging and positive,” she says. “Everyone agrees that the more we help each other, the more everyone does well.”

Besides the two owners, Vivacity has just one full-time employee, along with a couple of part-timers. But the company’s small size doesn’t stand in the way of making an exceptional product.

“Distilling is an art form, but there’s a science to it, too,” Prueitt says. “You have to pay attention to the tiny details, through research and development, looking at how all the botanicals fit together. It’s like baking or cooking.”

Whereas most bottom-shelf liquor is flavored with synthetic chemicals or generic essences, Vivacity insists on the clarity and depth that fresh, organic, local ingredients can provide.

“The ever-increasingly educated public is growing more concerned about food sources, and the practice of raising and preparing food,” Prueitt says, adding that their spirits are “hand-crafted, using actual herbs and botanicals.”

Vivacity’s line of spirits includes an organic corn-based Fine Vodka that’s smooth on the back end, and warming without burning. It’s sipping vodka, no mixers required.

Then there’s Banker’s Gin, a London dry-style gin bursting with traditional juniper flavor. If you’re game for more complexity, Vivacity’s Native Gin combines 17 botanical ingredients, 14 of which are grown in Oregon, into a floral bouquet with notes of native Oregon juniper, Oregon grape and myrtle leaf.

Vivacity’s Traditional Rum is rich with vanilla and caramel notes, and their Turkish Coffee Liqueur plays with hints of cardamom and cinnamon. Prueitt says a Vivacity Brandy will be ready in a couple of years.

Vivacity spirits are available in every liquor store in Eugene, Springfield and Corvallis, as well as other areas of Oregon and Washington. Vivacity’s Tasting Room, located about a mile north of downtown Corvallis at 720 NE Granger Ave., is open noon to 5 pm the first and third Saturday of the month.

“But people are encouraged to call, or just stop by if they see a car in front,” Prueitt says.

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