Our Story

It’s a Family Affair

Jim Finke, Tom Rambasek, Chris Finke

Brother-in-law Tom Rambasek, brothers Jim and Chris Finke, and good friend and CFO Marty Clarke founded Crystal Spirits, LLC and developed the Buckeye Vodka brand from inception to finished product.

The Finke’s are fourth generation Ohioans from Dayton, Tom was raised in the suburbs of Cleveland and all four were educated in Ohio.  Tom and Chris both graduated from the University of Dayton, Jim from Bowling Green State University and Marty received his undergraduate and Masters degree in Accounting from Xavier University.

Over the past several years, we saw friends; family and neighbors struggle with the economy. Dayton, like many other areas of the state and region, has endured the closings of numerous businesses, both large and small.

We were determined to make a difference by investing locally, build a business that could create jobs and make a contribution to Ohio ’s economy. What happened next just shows what’s possible when a good idea meets plain hard work:

  • Chris, who lives in Austin, has a friend who already had an award winning vodka on the market in Texas and we developed a strategic partnership with him.
  • Since water is extremely important to any vodka, it was a natural fit for Tom who owns and operates the Crystal Water Company, and who is an expert in the distillation and processing of water to manage the operations of Crystal Spirits.
  • Marty took the ball and ran with it, procuring the equipment and structuring the company with no debt. Research had told us that although people would continue to purchase alcoholic beverages in difficult times, they would move down a shelf at the stores when money was tight. By operating with no debt, we can produce an ultra premium vodka at an affordable price – so consumers don’t have to sacrifice quality.   
  • Jim took charge of the Buckeye Brand, working with designers, bottlers, and package experts to make sure the crisp, clean look of the bottle matched the extraordinary Buckeye taste.

For a great product we wanted a great name and a great package that celebrated the Spirit of Ohio and of the Midwest. The name “Buckeye Vodka” was one name that was mentioned early in the process when the vision for the company took shape.  The patriotic theme of our bottle and cases shows our pride for the State of Ohio and our great nation, and stays true to our heritage and to the Midwestern values with which we were raised. 

We wanted Buckeye Vodka to have a traditional taste profile and to be extremely smooth. Although we knew we had an award-winning formula and a wonderful example to follow, the taste of vodka can vary tremendously due to the types of grain, the quality of that grain and the water that is used as well as how many times it is distilled and how it is filtered.

We exceeded our high expectations with the first batch, and we will happily put that to the taste test against any competitor on the shelf today.

We genuinely love Buckeye Vodka and hope that you will too!

Team Buckeye

Jim Finke, CEO

The Finke family’s roots run deep into the fabric of Ohio and Dayton in particular.  Jim is the fourth generation president of The Finke Company, a family run wholesale distribution business established in 1886.

more

Tom Rambasek, President

As owner and operator of The Crystal Water Company, Tom offers extraordinary expertise in the purification and distillation of water, and will help make Buckeye Vodka the finest vodka distilled and bottled in Ohio.

more

The Advantage of Craft Distilled Vodka

“Why is this better? Because it’s not produced for 10 million people, it’s produced for 5,000 people…”

-Bill Owens, the American Distilling Institute