Covering the ultra-high end world of the cannabis biz is an exciting thing for a journalist. There are so many different facets of the business to focus on. The humble cannabis plant itself is so diverse, offering multiple uses from one seed. To be entrusted with the ability to taste and offer cohesive notes on the quality of the product is a great honor. Drilling down a bit deeper, and writing product notes, especially the ones on ultra-high-end cannabis inventions are a most subjective thing, especially to a taste maker. However, one of the downfalls of my craft as a taste maker, is that difficulty that I keep coming across in the broader marketplace. Many of the products that I’ve been given to sample are made with all great ingredients, they have to be tested multiple times for purity. I’ve found in the world of cannabis, pleasure in reviewing the 510 cart. These are pretty expensive products, and through my somewhat educated palate I aspire to give tasting notes that offer a deeper perception of their individual aromatics, effects and terroir. Recently, many of my samples have been skewed towards sweet, sweeter and sweetest, in the form of their aromatics and their overall flavor. The really sticky sweet ones do not appeal to me. It’s as if the entire cannabis community decided that all vape carts were to be sugary sweet. Pretty disappointing to someone who doesn’t make sweet drinks. That is until I tasted the oils produced by the vertically integrated company, located in San Jose California, named Caliva. “The Most Trusted Brand in Cannabis.” The two marvelously juicy cannabis oils that I was fortunate enough to taste from Caliva are the Cali OG, bursting with the earthy delights of the plant and the other beautifully designed 510 cartridge simply named Pillow Talk. Quite the provocative name for a simply designed, and marvelously topped with cool and sanitary stainless steel against my lips.
First of all, Caliva is a bricks and mortar store. It is a richly appointed dispensary that sells a plethora of “top shelf” cannabis products and accoutrements, both on a wholesale and on a retail level. They offer all the usual suspects for sale in the California marketplace, such as their own luxury flowers, edibles, topicals, concentrates, and their own ultra-excellent extractions. One of their many strengths in their well-designed, customer friendly space is their corporate ethos of seed to sale, by using a process called vertical integration. Through this sometimes controversial program of vertical integration, Caliva is able to serve as their own supply chain, this cutting out the extra-expense of a middle-man. (That’s the controversy!) This term also means that they take their own select blends of cannabis seeds and grow them into a flourishing and economically viable business model, across many product lines. Many of their ancillary products are formulated from their own seed stock. Many of the processes are done right in-house to control costs and minimize transportation expenses. This methodology is called Vertical Integration, at least as it applies to the cannabis trade. The other model in use around the United States is known by the term: Three-Tier System. This model has been adopted from the existing systems used in liquor logistics. The three tier system is used by many states who have ‘legalized’ adult use cannabis because of the existing distribution channels. Vertical Integration is much more streamlined than the traditional Three-Tier System economically, and it certainly has the potential to ruffle some feathers in the non-vertically integrated states.
With that said, quality cannabis companies such as Caliva, who are working within their own unique legal framework, will excel within their own personalized product set. Their bottom up principal translates easily to the American market by making the expense of a middle man obsolete. To control the flow across the expanse of the marketplace from within, with a fixed set of inflows and outflows becomes an economists dream. The company is, in this way able to manage their own risk by being both successful and spending their own money to move forward in the organic growth of a corporation. Vertical Integration in the cannabis industry is really quite fascinating to observe in action, and if I was an economist, I’d say that this methodology was a uniquely self-sustaining model of success. Why? Because it occurs in real-time, with healing as their core value.
Truly a win/win for the open minded consumer who is seeking deeper enlightenment through the rich appreciation of cannabis. Just like fine wine!
Pillow Talk. Now that’s an intriguing name for a strain of cannabis. It evokes bemusing thoughts of rainy Sunday mornings and no alarm clocks or pesky dogs needing to be walked. Deeply liberating to the chi (the inner self), and emotionally expansive within the mind, Pillow Talk is both euphoric and mesmerizing. A couple short puffs immediately takes control of your front lobe in your brain, and then slowly massages (metaphors, work with me here…), some exotic Tiger Balm ointment applied directly into the core of your brain. Not numbing in the sense of taking away a feeling of consciousness, but warming and comforting. The richly emotional feelings of embracing a litter of kittens comes to mind. Pillow Talk is for relaxed intellectualism and conversational comfort. There are the bursts of Cali/Rhone Ranger wine, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, plunging headlong into shimmering droplets of diesel fuel. More red tinted earth is revealed from the abundant vapor, leading into crushed pine needles and with this pull, smooth grape jam down the throat. The physical effect is of immense relaxation, starting at the tips of your fingers, moving ecstatically down your hands to your wrists and then into the core of your mind and body. Right around this time your ears are more attuned to details, that hidden leak in the upstairs closet, the wind rustling through the chimney, your cat rooting though your attic searching for that mouse. Seemingly mundane things are suddenly fascinating, and sounds appear to be deeper and more intricate to the listener. Pillow Talk is a gorgeous effort. A sophisticated extract, absolutely worthy of your hard earned dollars. Definitely save this one for the conclusion of your meal instead of a snifter of Cognac. Each carefully metered hit is a vapor-sip of richly textured memories, each inhale leading to deep, relaxing sleep. Very similar in effect to some Headband that I had up in Portland, Oregon last year.
Cali OG: The origins of the strain named Cali OG are hazy at best with everyone in the cannabis biz and their favorite uncle taking credit for originally creating this very popular strain. I was immediately charmed by the unique terroir, or taste of the place, in wine terms. This ultra-high quality oil filled cartridge is pure earth across the palate. The vapor produced in lovely, pure cloud of cannabis vapors from my California Bud Company ‘Chief’ battery is not sweet in any way. The deeply textured aromatics capture the immediately enticing, richly textured quality of the plant. There are whiffs of freshly turned loam, crushed salt slicked minerals, piquant, nose tingling baking spices and an effervescent finish that seems to go on across your palate, up your nose and swirling around your brain. As it was, I took a long drive to Philadelphia with the Cali OG swirling around my senses and arrived relaxed, strangely invigorated and absolutely intent on enjoying the rest of the day. Little things like other drivers not using their turn signals didn’t seem to bother me quite so much and my sense of hunger was amplified by this lovely and precious oil to a craving for the classic, Jim’s of South Street- Cheesesteak with Whiz. (Whiz is of course Cheese Whiz, which is, quite simply, not cheese at all.)