You can make vodka from many things… but milk? That was the idea that Black Cow Vodka had, and certainly from a marketing point of view it was a very good one. The brand has had so much publicity because of it, and it seems to keep on coming as new people discover this unusual method of making vodka. You wonder why no-one had tried it before, as Black Cow claims that this is the first vodka in the world to be made from milk.
Whose Idea Was This?
The idea came from Jason Barber, a dairy farmer in one of my favourite parts of England, Dorset. Jason has a dairy herd of some 250 cows, and we all know that farmers have a tough time getting a good price for their milk these days. Jason was looking to diversify, and as a man who also liked his vodka, there came one of those ‘I wonder if…’ moments.
How Do You Turn Milk into Vodka?
Black Cow’s milk is first separated into curds and whey. Well, first it’s separated from the cows, of course, who feed only on grass, so you start with a pure and natural milk. They take the curds and make Barber’s 1833 and Vintage Cheddar cheese from it.
The whey is then fermented to become a unique milk beer using a special yeast that converts the milk sugar into alcohol. There then follows a distillation and secret blending process before triple-filtering produces the finished vodka, which is then hand-bottled.
But Is It Any Good?
Is it good? It’s quite simply one of the best vodkas I’ve ever tasted. At first I thought it had to be psychological, that the idea of a vodka produced from milk would make you think it was creamy, even if it wasn’t. But it really is. It has an incredibly pure aroma, and a deliciously round and full mouth-feel, with a taste that is genuinely creamy without being overly sweet.
Black Cow Vodka has all the complexity of a good vodka. There’s a hint of vanilla and of a very slight spiciness too, with a touch of coconut, I felt. As for the finish, it’s amazing. There’s no harshness to it at all, and it’s as warm and as full as it tastes.
Milk Vodka Cocktails
Although I would happily sip this neat, it also ought to be perfect for cocktails. It should make a pretty neat White Russian, for one! Black Cow obviously thinks so too and you’ll find an impressive collection of cocktail recipes on their website, including Jason’s Espresso Martini:
It’s Not Just Me
After I’d tasted it on a couple of evenings, I still couldn’t believe how good it was so I went looking to see what other people made of it. On their website, Black Cow quotes from the food writer Tom Parker Bowles:
Black Cow Vodka is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever tasted, wonderfully smooth and beautifully rounded.
The vodka has also won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, as well as various other awards in competitions around the UK.
It first came on the market in 2012 and has doubled production each year since then. In 2016 they produced 120,000 bottles. The whey from Jason Barber’s cattle used to be used as pig food. I’m glad he found a better use for it.
And if you live in the UK you can also find Black Cow Vodka on Amazon.