Vodka From Milk: What Does Jason Barber’s Black Cow Vodka Taste Like?

By Philip Ross on April 13, 2013 2:56 PM EDT

vodka from milk
One UK dairy farmer has perfected the process of making vodka from milk and distills the alcohol on his farm in Dorset, England. (Photo: Flickr/Muffet)
vodka from milk 2
Black Cow Vodka, purportedly the world’s only pure milk vodka, comes in 50cl and 70cl bottles, and is sold only in the UK. (Photo: Twitter/BlackCowVodka)

Vodka from milk? British dairy farmer Jason Barber has spent three years working on his milk vodka recipe, and last May, Barber launched the farm-made alcohol in the UK.

It's called Black Cow Vodka, and it's made from pure cow's milk.

"So smooth you can drink it 'til the cows come home," Barber noted on his website.

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From A Long Line Of Farmers

Barber's farm, called Seaborough Manor, is in West Dorset, a county on the English Channel coast of South West England.

Dorset Magazine reports that the Barber family's farming roots date back to the early 1800s and that Jason Barber's father moved to Seaborough Manor in 1958. Barber moved onto his father's 370-acre farm in 2000 and began his dairy farming business there.

According to the magazine, the 49-year-old dairy farmer got the idea for making vodka from milk from a centuries-old tribe, the Siberian Tuvans, who also ferment milk to make alcohol. Tuvans are historically cattle-herding nomads, and have shepherded goats, sheep, reindeer and other types of livestock for over a thousand years.

While information on an ancient milk vodka recipe from Tuva is tenuous, Lonely Planet notes that outsiders traveling through Tuva, which is now a federal subject of Russia, should be wary about drinking with the locals; apparently, they're notorious for getting rowdy and aggressive when they drink.

"A proliferation of knives and other weapons doesn't help," Lonely Planet reports, and admonishes travelers to avoid drinking vodka with local "friends."

How Is Vodka From Milk Made?

According to Black Cow Vodka's website, Barber has 250 cows in his pasture, which give him about 25 litres of milk each.

Barber separates the milk into curds and whey. He then uses a special yeast, which converts the milk sugar into alcohol, to ferment the whey into a beer. The milk beer is then distilled, but Barber doesn't reveal the any more details of his "secret blending process" beyond this.

The leftover curds don't go to waste. They're used to make cheese, which Barber won an award for in 2012 at the World Cheese Awards in Nantwich, England.

Barber markets his milk vodka as the "world's first pure milk vodka," although it's difficult to determine the veracity of this claim. A blog post from 2008 on a beverage law website points to a vodka made in Vermont that is distilled from milk sugar. The milk vodka is called Vermont White Vodka.

So What's The Verdict On Vodka From Milk?

Barber purports on the vodka's website that his alcohol has an "exceptionally smooth" and "unique creamy" character.

But what do consumers think?

The Inquisitr reports that a number of high-end restaurants in the UK are serving Black Cow Vodka, including celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal. Apperently, even Daniel Craig and Elizabeth Hurly have a palate for Barber's farm-made vodka. River Cottage, a former game-keeper's lodge in Dorset that operates a number of dining and drinking venues in the area, also attests to the vodka's smooth nature.

Black Cow Vodka is sold exslusively in the UK. A 50cl, or 500ml, bottle costs 28.85 Euro, or about $38 USD. According to the site, the company is working on setting up international shipping. Barber suggests using his milk vodka to make a dirty Black Cow martini.

Bottoms up!

Read more from iScience Times:

Whiskey Cures Blindness: Alcohol Causes Denis Duthie To Lose, Then Regain Sight

Vodka Saves Puppy: How Was Cleo Saved By Alcoholic IV?

Can Red Wine Prevent Falls? 5 Benefits Of Drinking Alcohol

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