A Vodka’s Curious Claim

Drew Adelman of Colonia, founder and CEO of Devotion vodka, swears that that his product "is not only the world’s first-ever, sugar-free, gluten-free and 100 percent made-in-America vodka, it is also hangover-free."

The seven flavors of Devotion vodkas
Photo: courtesy Devotion Spirits

According to Adelman, other vodka brands can include up to the equivalent of “eight (2-4 gram) packets of sugar in a bottle. And the flavored ones go up to 23 packets of sugar. That’s why people get tremendous headaches after drinking them.”

OK. So Devotion vodka is sugar-free. Is sugar really the reason people get "tremendous hedaches" after drinking flavored vodkas? Maybe sugar and flavorings make alcohol more palatable, so people consume more of it than they would if they had to drink it straight. That could cause a headache or two.

Whatever. Adelman’s Devotion vodka, which is 80 proof and distilled in Wisconsin, starts out with what Adelman calls “hospital grade water.” That is his term for deionized, purified, water. He says that the water Devotion uses “makes our flavors pop."

Devotion comes in seven varieties: Tiki Tea, Coconut, Wild Cherry, Black & Blue, Blood Orange, Perfect Cosmo and Original. Each is priced at $19.99. According to Adelman, the sugar-free flavorings are created by Allen Flavors of Edison by "taking natural ingredients and cooking them down to their concentrated essence."

Devotion is distilled from American, non -GMO corn. Each batch, Adelman says, is distilled six times.

OK. Devotion is sugar-free and made in the US from ingredients grown in the US.

But wait. Aren’t all vodkas gluten-free?

Last year, Scientific American reported that "After a 2012 Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) interim ruling, gluten-free labeled vodkas hit the market [in 2013]."

In the article, writer Fred Minnick noted that…

"…the new spirits labeling trend contradicts long-standing advisories from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that all distilled spirits are gluten-free unless it is added after distillation. So is this all a marketing gimmick?

"Distillation involves heating," Minnick wrote, "which vaporizes the alcohol as a way to remove it from the mixture. ‘Distilled spirits, because of the distillation process, should contain no detectable gluten residues or gluten peptide residues,’ says Steve Taylor, co-director of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. ‘Proteins and peptides are not volatile and thus would not distill over.’”

Whatever. Devotion seems to be gaining a foothold in the marketplace.

Nationally distributed, it is available in Wegmans, Shop-Rite, Total Wine and Bottle King, as well as in Whole Foods stores that carry liquor. Among restaurants, it can be ordered at Applebee’s, Houlihan’s and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

Adelman, 47, came to distilling “from the other side of the bar,” after a career as owner of a nationwide chain of nightclubs. “I like to work out and stay in shape,” he says, and wanted to create an adult beverage “that was more conducive to my lifestyle.”

In 2009, he launched the brand.
After a year of marketing the product alone, he was introduced by a mutual friend to another New Jersey native, Mike Calleja of Linden. Calleja, 37, became Adelman’s partner and COO, bringing experience in liquor sales, marketing and operations.

Devotion bottles are recognizable by their distinctive logo, which includes a heart-within-a-heart flanked by angel wings.

“The word
devotion relates to everybody in all walks of life,” Adelman says. “You think of that one purpose in your life. Mine is my daughter Nicole [24]. She has my heart, and guides it in all the right directions without even knowing it. Her white angel wings are wrapped around my clear heart as her heart beats within. Nothing can ever compare, or will ever compare, to the lifetime of devotion I have for my angel.”

Here are a few of Adelman’s favorite Devotion vodka recipes:

Black & Blue Lemonade

2 oz. Devotion Black and Blue
4 blueberries
4 blackberries
4 basil leaves
Muddle berries gently in a high ball glass and add ice
Fill glass with sugar-free lemonade
Garnish with basil

Blood Orange Crush

2 oz. Devotion Blood Orange
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
Fill half of a highball glass with 7-Up
Fill other half of the glass with orange juice
Garnish glass with an orange slice


2 oz. Devotion Coconut
Fill a high ball glass 3/4 with club soda
Fill 1/4 of the glass with pineapple juice
Add a dash of grenadine
Garnish glass with one cherry & one orange wedge


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