Tennessee is practically synonymous with whiskey and Jack Daniels in particular – perhaps not so much because of mere geography, but because the iconic brand embodies the state’s old-school spirit and cult of true craftsmanship that exist in an intimate relationship with nature. After all, Jack Daniels is famous for its naturalistic approach to the aging process, in which the barrels, an essential ingredient of any whiskey, are left in wooden barns with no heating, ventilation, or air conditioning systems. No two batches of barrels, and respectively Jack Daniels, can ever be identical because the weather patterns are never the exact same from year to year.
Kat’s Craft Collection, a premium cannabidiol (CBD) oil limited edition from Kat’s Naturals in Tennessee, is born from a similar mentality that feels so quintessential to these soulful lands. The point of this craft collection that comes from a single cultivar – Tennessee-1 – is to be entirely different from the company’s other offerings, a controlled experiment of sorts, an adventure for both clients and creator, letting nature do its part.
“Kat’s Naturals has always kept a consistent product line of formulations based on potency and terpene profile and, in some products, by using measured amounts of certain cannabinoids using isolated molecules to make sure that customers come back to a product that will have the same effect as the last time they took it,” Kat Merryfield, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Kat’s Naturals, explains. “This project was completely different. Since we were trying to outline a cultivar instead of a certain effect, we really got to just let this lady shine!”
But Kat’s ability to sense nature’s powers and unlock them didn’t start with CBD or hemp, as she was an herbalist and nutritionist first. But when she tried CBD for the first time and felt its pain-relieving properties first hand, she knew she had only scratched the surface of plants’ healing potential. Exploring hemp’s mysteries was the next natural step in her evolution.
“Hemp intrigued me because it is a missing link in natural medicine. What I have enjoyed about working with this unique plant is that every molecule in its makeup has a purpose and works both together and yet separately to help the body and mind heal and function at a higher level.”
Fruitful Partnership with NuSachi
To capture the Tennessee-1 “plant in a bottle,” as she puts it, Kat teamed up with NuSachi, a hemp extracts company she met at a trade show in 2019 and clicked with immediately, especially on a “verifiable supply chain” level.
“A vertical and traceable supply chain is optimal primarily for supreme quality that’s achieved through communication and logistics,” J. Mitchell, Director of Product Development, NuSachi, explains. “There is a practiced subtlety between cultivation, processing, and formulation that a vertically integrated company can possess. There are scenarios where collaboration between specialized growers and processors can create high quality outputs.
Taking advantage of NuSachi’s proprietary solventless extraction technique, SOLAR – Single Origin Live Active Rosin, they “were able to keep a high amount of CBDa [cannabidiolic acid] and THCa [tetrahydrocannabinolic acid] making it more like the original flower.”
The process is based on the principles of fresh freezing, preserving the terpenes and cannabinoids as closely as possible to their original form by allowing them to skip the test of time that drying and curing subjects them to.
“Timing is everything. The right day to harvest, the speed at which the plants are frozen, storage temperature, processing temperature, etc. Preserving the plant at the peak of ripeness and delivering that into an extract is an extreme challenge,” Mitchell says.
Doing the Right Thing
But taking pride in capturing a “plant in a bottle” and celebrating nature’s healing powers would seem somewhat hypocritical and downright silly without trying to preserve it in the process. This is why Kat’s Naturals has eco practices in place that bring its waste as close to zero as possible.
“We source sustainably harvested organic ingredients and strive to utilize every part of the hemp plant. Additionally, we compost to prevent overrunning landfills with needless waste. We recycle everything we can and try to use products that create as little excess as possible.”
Of course, zero-waste practices are usually a two-way street that consumers are encouraged to walk on as well.
“We also encourage each person who buys our organic CBD products to recycle the bottles, droppers, lids, and boxes, and to use our rice based packing peanuts in their compost.”
Furthermore, Kat’s Naturals donates to Operation Rally Point, a charity that helps veterans acclimate to civilian life, being that Kat’s husband is a veteran himself. It also offers discounts for veterans and people on disability and fixed incomes as it’s well-aware not everyone can afford its products, which don’t come cheap for the company itself.
“Quality costs money, as does going above and beyond to pay for certifications that prove you really do what you say, to work with companies that are also striving to be environmentally conscious and use environmentally friendly packaging and ingredients, and pay our employees a living wage,” Kat explains.
While she realizes this commitment puts her company in a disadvantage in the price wars against other companies that have no problem skimping on quality, her refusal to compromise with her vision is unwavering.
“We want to be the Patagonia of CBD companies; our quality products and our environmental sustainability and care of our community shines forth in every aspect of our company. We want people to be loyal to our brand and say ‘Kat’s Naturals cares and their products work!’”
Celebrating the Agrarian Tennessee Spirit
To circle back to Kat’s Craft Collection and the tribute to Tennessee’s distinctively agrarian spirit that it is, the bottles feature special artwork by renowned Tennessee artist Justin Helton of Status Serigraph in Knoxville. After all, a collection is meant to be worth collecting.
“The craft line was intended to not only showcase a cultivar, but to give a pre-prohibition old style apothecary look and feel to the product and celebrate the agrarian origin behind it. Tennessee was a thriving hemp producer before prohibition, and it is quickly rebounding since ‘legalization’. Justin really captured the essence of the entire industry.”
The only way CBD gets any more Tennessee than this is if you mix it in a shot of Jack.