The hype around cannabis and the products that can be made with it seems to be here to stay. Every trip to the dispensary presents new options of ways to ingest the substance. The days of pot brownies and cookies aren’t exactly over, rather they’re just having to compete with an array of new products like cannabis-infused gummies, gourmet chocolates, pretzels and rice krispy treats. But like many other aspects of this new industry, no one has quite cornered the market on cannabis-infused drinks, which Seattle-based Tarukino is hoping to do.
A major sector of Tarukino is SōRSE, the technology behind the advancement of cannabis drinks and the resulting adult beverages. To explain the relationship between Tarukino (the intellectual property owner and overarching company) and SōRSE, made by marijuana processor Green Med Labs, can be confusing.
“Tarukino comes up with all the ideas for the drinks we make,” says Tyler Peterson, Green Med Labs general manager. “They come up with the technology for SōRSE [then] Green Med has taken those ideas and technology, physically produced them and launched them out into the marketplace.”
PRODUCTS IN THE MARKET
So far Tarukino’s lineup includes Utopia, a cannabis-infused sparkling water; Happy Apple, a cider-like offering; Vertus, a sparkling wine-inspired offering; and Reeb, the malt-flavored, beer-style drink. All of these drinks are inspired by their alcoholic beverage counterparts but contain zero alcohol — featuring a water-soluble cannabis emulsion instead.
Though there are a handful of other companies making cannabis-infused drinks, where Tarukino stands alone is its emulsion technology. SōRSE is the first and only technology that produces entirely taste- and odor-free cannabis emulsions for these adult beverages.
“Normally if you take vegetable oil and put it in your soda it floats to the top, [our] emulsion allows that oil to go into a water-based system,” says Michael Flemmens, SōRSE’s vice president of science. “We’ve taken what should be only a oil-soluble or alcohol-soluble material and transformed it so it can be dispersible in water.”
In other words, you won’t taste the cannabis in these products nor will you see it accumulated near the bottom of a glass, or even smell it. With SōRSE’s technology, a consumer can take the emulsion powder and use it, for example, in a baked apple pie without sacrificing any flavor.
EDUCATION IN CANNABIS DRINKS
On top of educating the general public as to how this type of product affects the drink and its consumer, Tarukino must also face the stigma around cannabis products. Though Peterson doesn’t see Tarukino’s drinks as any different than alcohol, he knows that many people do not feel the same way.
“Why do we drink wine, booze, beer whatever?” Peterson says. “It’s not for the flavor but it’s to get that relaxing feeling and that’s exactly what cannabis does. The biggest part is knowing what a 100-milligram drink is going to do to you versus a 5-milligram drink and that’s where education comes in.”
Peterson says the company hopes to keep exploring what consumers want and right now it seems to be higher milligram beverage. Most recently Tarukino has released two new products, Atomic and Major Apple, which are both more sugar-based products and the latter answering the demand for a larger dose. While Atomic Apple is a twist on Happy Apple with much more tartness for a dryer palate, Major is the new value offering which comes in smaller 6.7-ounce bottles and is packed with 100-milligrams of THC for only $15.
Tarukino sells to a wide variety of consumers and the company strives to encourage more people to try these products which are in many ways different than what they probably have experienced with other cannabis products, Peterson adds.
“They need someone or something to give them that next little step to say, ‘hey it’s legal, it’s fine,” he says. “Take it slow, play around with it and have fun.”