Ship shape: Shiphouse Vodka drives into stores

What is it: Shiphouse Vodka is the brainchild of local businessman and entrepreneur Bryan Kasper. The name comes from the iconic landmark on Put-in-Bay, the Benson Ford, of which Kasper has been the owner since 1999.

“It’s so unique that I knew the bottle would be something people would want on their bar,” Kasper says.
Shiphouse Vodka
Kasper knows a thing or two about business. And vodka.

“Well, I have to say I drink a lot of vodka,” Kasper says. “It’s my favorite of any spirit, so I would say I’m an expert. We toiled for years with the formula switching grains and formulas until it was perfect.”

Product development: Kasper said he started thinking about this project a decade ago, but he faced several obstacles, including finding a quality glass supplier and a distillery that would bottle and distribute the product. 

Since the design of the bottle is so intricate, it had to undergo many phases. From the first step of a CAD drawing, to an acrylic, to a mold, then to an actual sample, the whole process was a labor of love.

“And finally, literally years later, the final product shipped in containers from Poland,” Kasper says.

Once the ship-shaped bottles were produced, Kasper had to find a distillery willing to handle the project. That’s where Tony Guilfoy and Noble Cut Distillery came in. Kasper and business partner Joe Fraley, who own Shiphouse Spirits together, assembled six others to purchase the distillery and asked Guilfoy to stay on staff.The Benson Ford stands tall over Put-in-Bay.

Kasper and his partners plan to open an offshoot of the distillery on Put-in-Bay under the Tree Bar next to Mr. Ed’s Bar and Grille where people can buy full-proof bottles of Noble Cut products, as well as island and Shiphouse swag.

More than just vodka: Shiphouse Vodka isn’t the only product available through the distillery. Noble Cut makes many spirits, most notably limoncello and three other flavors of “cellos,” orange, grapefruit and lime. They also produce a line of whiskeys in flavors like cherry, maple, peach and salted caramel.

Shiphouse Vodka's Bryan KasperBut back to the vodka: Shiphouse isn’t the only vodka available through Noble Cut. The distillery produces what Kasper calls a “wildly popular” well line called Vohio in the Buckeye State and VoTenn in Tennessee. They also offer a mid-grade called Noble Cut Premium “and the best vodka that will ever touch your lips, Shiphouse Vodka, which is six times distilled and 10 times filtered,” according to Kasper.

Kasper’s favorite drink to make with his vodka?

“As odd as it sounds, I almost always drink it with Diet Coke,” Kasper says. “Yes, that’s right, Diet Coke. It’s also fantastic with soda or lemonade, I must say.”

Where to find it: The best place to find the nautically themed liquor is at the product’s website, Kasper notes. Beyond that, it is available at state liquor stores and will soon be on the shelves in 100 more stores in Ohio. Out of the state, it is available in Tennessee and will soon be available in Indiana and Pennsylvania. 

“There are three places that never run out of Shiphouse,” Kasper says, “The distillery in Columbus, the distillery on Put-in-Bay, and the ship itself.”

Maybe just stick to purchasing the vodka in one of the retail spots, though, since the ship is a private home, Kasper jokes.