Florida’s MacKay Clan established one of the finest artisanal distilleries near Dunnelon, Marion County, Florida.

Tucked away in Central Florida is Fish Hawk Spirits an amazing small artisan distillery producing unique red colored Absinthe and amazing Tangerine Brandy.

Their Story

When Matthew Bagdanovich came back home in 2010 to Marion County in Florida he combined three things: His family heritage, his knowledge of foreign liquors as well as his love for high-quality spirits. Together with the support of his family he started Fish Hawk Spirits in 2012. Their concept is unique, producing Absinthe – an “off main stream” drink – and Marion 106 Black – a non-sweet brandy made from tasty Florida tangerines. “Everything is 100% produced locally and organic”, explains Matthew touring his facility. And, this is what you taste: A uniquely well balanced flavored brandy and a wonderful aromatic ruby Absinthe. Visiting Fish Hawk Spirits is a great experience off the beaten paths in Florida’s heartland. New in the Spirits family is a Twisted Sun Rum.

Absinthe, a Niche Drink

Absinthe is known to be a sophisticated drink, due to its long tradition among European writers and artists in the 19th century. Though the Swiss claim to have Absinthe invented, the medical use of wormwood is probably much older dating back to ancient Egypt. Due to Absinthe’s high alcoholic content it was nicknamed “the green fairy” and at some point in history people believed it to be an addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen. About a hundred years later a revival of the spirit began in the 1990th as the European Union removed barriers to producing Absinthe ruling out causing hallucinogenic experiences.

Today there are just a few artisan distilleries specialized in the production of Absinthe. The principal botanicals of Absinthe are grande wormwood, green anise, and florence fennel, which are often called “the holy trinity.” Absinth’s usual green color is caused by the herbs that are used to flavor the Absinthe, and, this is what makes Fish Hawk Spirits Absinthia Rubra different – the natural herbs and spices color it beautifully red. Fish Hawk Spirit’s Southern Red Absinthe is so far the only handcrafted, red Absinthe produced in the USA.

Tangerine Brandy

Most spirits made from Citrus are liqueurs, i.e. in the Triple Sec family spirits are flavored with the peel of Bitter Oranges; Curaçao liqueur is one of the best known brands using peels of the Laraha (Citrus aurantium currassuviencis) a special bitter orange growing on the Caribbean island with the same name. The more surprising is Fish Hawks Tangerine Brandy that is also made from citrus fruits but a distilled liquor and no liqueur and therefore not sweet.

Fish Hawk Spirits first experimented with distilling oranges but they switched to tangerines to create their amazing Marion 106 Black Brandy. They admitted that their attempt of distilling oranges was a fairly “hideous” experiment but then Matthew remembered from his time in Mexico some recipes with tangerines and they followed up with a different approach to create this fresh brandy with a taste of Florida within.

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