Florida Oranges not Just for Juice Anymore; Couple’s Indian River Distillery Will Focus on Local Ingredients | Whiskey Raiders
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Florida Oranges not Just for Juice Anymore; Couple’s Indian River Distillery Will Focus on Local Ingredients

Indian River Distillery

Ray and Mandy Hooker, who plan to open Indian River Distillery in January in Florida, will use many local ingredients, including oranges, in their spirits.

A husband and wife from Florida, Ray and Mandy Hooker, are working to open Indian River Distillery, the first craft distillery on Florida’s Treasure Coast, and they plan to use native ingredients in their spirits, they told Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Mandy, a beekeeper who maintains medicinal plants in the couple’s 3-acre yard, and Ray, who comes from a landscaping background and is a self-described “plant nerd,” would appear to have the right skill set to know what sorts of natural ingredients to experiment with.

Ambitious spirits

The couple hopes to open the distillery during the second week of January, but the two already have some intriguing ideas:

“Sour orange ‘cello”: Ray plans to use wild oranges, which are typically considered too sour to eat, to make an alternative take on the limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur that has grown in popularity in the U.S. in recent years

“Hibiscus City Gin”: The couple will use sour orange peel and hibiscus grown in Vero Beach — where the distillery will be located — in the distillery’s Hibiscus City Gin. That gin also will include local juniper.

A sweet mead: Ray wants to attempt to make a mead out of fermented honey, a spirit that would tie in nicely with Mandy’s beekeeping. He also intends to use wild oranges

The couple, who learned how to run a distillery at a weekend workshop in 2016 in Kentucky, is currently taking online classes at London’s Institute of Brewing and Distilling. The Hookers also said they are studying cocktails.

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David Morrow is the Editor In Chief of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.