Some ambitious locals dream of earning big money, driving fast cars, and gaining high status. But for one Charlestonian, all he wanted to do was make vodka.

Scott Newitt has been making alcohol for over 18 years. “I wanted to make a Southern, regional vodka; that’s my dream,” Newitt says. The result of Newitt’s aspirations is FireFly Vodka, the first vodka of the Lowcountry.

Newitt teamed up with Jim Irvin, who owns South Carolina’s only winery, Irvin-House Vineyards, to create the muscadine-flavored vodka. The muscadine grapes are grown, harvested, crushed, and fermented into wine on Wadmalaw Island, and the wine is then shipped down to a Florida distillery. A small amount of wine is added to the five-times distilled vodka, which creates a clean, crisp, and smooth taste. Newitt’s favorite way of drinking the vodka is straight up in a martini glass because FireFly lacks the heat of regular vodka; the added wine makes the “fire fly” away, creating a hint of sweetness at the end.

You can put the south in your mouth for the same price as Skyy or Absolut; the only difference is that FireFly is distilled five times, whereas Skyy and Absolut are distilled only three times. The distillation process makes the vodka smoother and eliminates impurities, which will make your palate all the more happy.

Four years ago, Newitt’s original idea was to mix vodka with wine fermented from Carolina Gold Rice, but it was not cost effective. Two years later, Newitt connected with Irvin and they embarked on creating a muscadine-flavored vodka, facing some hurdles on the way. One reason there has never been a liquor unique to South Carolina is due to the huge taxes a distillery must pay. In South Carolina, a tax of $50,000 is charged every two years to any distillery or bottling company operating in our state. In contrast, Florida only charges $1,000.

Newitt hopes that the 15-year-old law, which has put a damper on the Southern alcohol industry, will be lifted, following in the footsteps of Europe. During his travels abroad, Newitt loved how every town had its own brewery or distillery, giving each place the opportunity for its own unique taste.

FireFly has become the house liquor of the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island and sold 250 cases in just three weeks. To add to FireFly’s credentials, in three different independent studies, FireFly out-tasted both Absolut and Skyy.

The Carolina Martini

1 oz. FireFly Vodka

Splash of Dry Vermouth

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Okra to garnish.

Angel Oak Martini

2 oz. FireFly Vodka

1 Toothpick

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.