Nothing speaks more highly of a company’s quality and consistency than sticking to a standard and remaining a classic. However, even the best of the best still grow, change, and strive for even better. We’re pleased to say, Charbay Distillery is both majestically timeless and yet truly modern.

Charbay of the Past

Founder Miles and his wife Susan stand with daughter-in-law Jenni and Miles’ son Marko in their family distillery.

Deeply rooted in tradition, Charbay Distillery is the legacy of the Karakasevic family. The earliest recording of the family’s heritage comes from 1751 when the family business was making wine and brandies. While the family business has been the Karakasevc legacy for over 250 years, from Yugoslavia to California, it wasn’t until 1983 that Milorad (Miles) Karakasevic came to North America and founded Charbay in the heart of Napa wine country.

Since the company’s official founding, Charbay has more than earned its mantel of excellence in the industry. In 2010, Miles became the United States’ first Grand Master Distiller, a title only granted to one who has distilled all four of the major spirits categories: brandy, whiskey, rum and tequila, a rare accomplishment given tequila’s requirement to be distilled in Mexico. With major shoes to fill, Miles’ son Marko set out to blaze his own trail and continue to be the driving force of innovation at Charbay.

Marko Karakasevic: Master Distiller

Marko Karakasevic – 13th generation Master Distiller – joined the family business at the young age of only ten. By high school Marko was distilling alcohol and fermenting beer. His education and experience are one-of-a-kind, distilling all types of spirits from a young age. “I’ve distilled every type of spirit there is on the planet, fruit for brandies, grains for whiskey, agave, down in Mexico, for tequila, sugar cane for rum. Plus, we’ve distilled sunflower fruits and made the fifth primal spirit in the world, so it’s fun.”

He describes his education as another family tradition. “I went through a European apprenticeship,” Marko explains in a Food GPS article. “The definition of master distiller in my family is to meet and distill something better than your predecessor. You’ve got to put something new on the market so, five years ago, I started working with light whiskey, making it out of really good drinking IPA. I let it age for four years in stainless to let it mesh. When we sold our first case of Doubled & Twisted Whiskey, my father said, ‘Congratulations son, you’re a master distiller.’”

This method of distilling whiskey from bottle-ready beer was a brand-new approach in the business. “I was the first to take bottle-ready beer, distill it into a whiskey, age it two years – minimum – in brandy oak, and bottle it,” Marko reminisces.

Charbay of the Future

It was clear one new drink creation wasn’t enough for Marko. In 1997, an idea taking root in the back of Marko’s mind began to surface. Why not use fresh fruit to create a new type of vodka? And with that notion, Charbay’s revolutionary Flavored Vodkas were cultivated.

In 1998, Charbay released Meyer Lemon Flavored Vodka, which was the first 100% fresh fruit flavored vodka in the US. A Blood Orange Flavored Vodka, and California’s first Pastis (an anise flavored digestive type of bitters) soon followed. The idea really began to flourish, and the company has since released further flavors including a Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka and a Green Tea Vodka.

Traditionally, flavored vodkas are made with artificial flavors, however Charbay wanted to reinvent the process and came up with something truly original – something well beyond industry standards. One of Charbay’s secrets in keeping the true fruit flavor is shredding their fruits whole – zest and all. Then the fruit undergoes a 90-day extraction process. This process results in the purist fruit flavor possible for their award-winning and extremely drinkable vodkas.

What’s next for this legacy? Whatever Marko and his family may be up to, rest assured the timeless heritage will continue to surprise us with modern and innovative twists in the world of wine and spirits.

Vintegrity knows all about the world of fine wines and spirits – for over 12 years the company has been honored to distribute the finest wines and spirits throughout both Kansas and Missouri.

Ready to add Charbay’s Flavored Vodkas to your menu or store shelves? Contact Vintegrity online today!