Venice couple creates award-winning rose water vodka

By Sara Edwards

Amira and Scott McCullough created Rosa Vodka, which has won multiple awards.
Images courtesy Manamira, LLC

Rose water is prized for its cosmetic and flavor properties, with a fragrance that smells like a walk through a blooming garden. Venice residents Scott and Amira McCullough are changing the spirit and vodka game with the launch of Rosa Vodka, a rose water recipe that has been distilled into vodka.

They came up with the idea after noticing there was a void in the alcohol and spirits industry for rose water. Amira came to the US from Bulgaria 20 years ago and brought a vial of rose oil with her.

“I brought it back here with me as a reminder and I’ve always been inspired to create something with it,” she says. “And we discovered that interestingly, there was a void in the alcohol industry for rose water.”

Amira and Scott started their company Manamira, LLC and created the Rosa Vodka process in early 2019. After many trial and error recipes, in addition to searching for the right spring water to use, they officially launched in August 2020. Currently, Rosa Vodka can only be purchased in the state of California, and is available in liquor stores in Beverly Hills and Venice.

Rosa Vodka may have only launched a few months ago, but it has already been awarded four medals and received praise from the Sunset Magazine International Spirits Competition, San Diego Spirits Festival, USA Spirits Ratings and Best Tasting Spirits.

“We were in the top 6% of most vodkas that (Best Tasting Spirits) tested, which is an amazing thing because now we know that we’re competitive,” Scott says.

“We also wanted a response from the consumers,” Amira adds. “Because of course we like what we make, but we wanted to hear from others, too.”

The vodka is distilled in the Pacific Northwest, and is crafted from damascena roses imported from Bulgaria and the purest spring water from the Cascade Mountains. The water is filtered for several days using limestone and charcoal to embrace the water’s purity. The vodka is then combined with the botanical essences of the Bulgarian damascena rose to provide a smooth, balanced and refreshing taste that can be enjoyed on the rocks or mixed with fruit juice.

“We wanted to have something that was subtle enough so that it wouldn’t overpower a drink, but you could drink it straight and it would be a different experience,” Scott points out.

Rosa Vodka is available for purchase at six different wine and liquor stores around Los Angeles and can also be ordered through a form on the company’s website. According to Scott and Amira, consumers can ask their local liquor stores to carry it as well.

“Starting this business during COVID-19 has brought up a good challenge, but it also made us think a little bit differently about how we can make this work,” Amira shares. “There were some challenging moments, but it’s been an exciting journey.”

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