Vodka from milk? Cheers!

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Vodka from milk? Cheers!

Date: 
Fri, 04/19/2013

A dairy farmer in England is getting cheers for his Black Cow home brew.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Whey, the liquid by-product of cheese making that is often disposed of as waste, is being made into vodka by a large-herd dairy farmer in England. No kidding.

Black Cow vodkaNaturally, the mere fact he is doing it has been great fodder for headlines and news reports across Europe. But it’s not just a publicity stunt; those same stories say the stuff is actually pretty good. In fact, Black Cow Vodka has already made a fan of actor Daniel Craig, the current James Bond star.

The self-taught distiller is Jason Barber, 47, who operates a 250-cow dairy in Beaminster, in southwest England. He is clearly not only an inventive chap, but a talented one, as well. Barber is a longtime cheesemaker who won the World Cheese Awards Cheddar Trophy in 2012.

He got the idea for using whey to make vodka after he saw a TV program about people in Serbia making vodka from yak milk.

Whey from his cheese making is saved and fermented using a special yeast, which turns whey sugars into alcohol. It is then distilled and treated — Barber says the process is a secret that took him three years to develop — and then triple-filtered and bottled.

Although gin is vastly more popular in England, Black Cow Vodka has made fans of customers at two posh restaurants near London that are owned by high-profile celebrity chefs. And the reviews haven’t been bad either.

“OK, so vodka made from milk doesn’t exactly sound enticing,” said a recent review by food and drink critic Tom Parker Bowles in a Sunday edition of The Mail. “But Black Cow Vodka is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever tasted — wonderfully smooth and beautifully rounded. It makes a Dirty Martini you’ll never forget.”

Photo from the Black Cow Vodka website

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