by Edith Cody-Rice
Have you heard of dairy vodka? I had not and could not imagine vodka made from cow’s milk, but last Thursday, the opening of Dairy Distillery on Industrial Drive in Almonte introduced me to this product produced from the milk of Ontario cows. How does it taste? Very good actually, smooth with a slightly, but only slightly sweet finish.
The owners and innovators and cousins by marriage Omid McDonald and Neil McCarten came up with the idea of using milk permeate, essentially milk sugars produced as a byproduct and up until now a waste product in the manufacture of ultrafiltered milk. to make vodka.
They source their permeate from the Parmalat facility in Winchester, Ontario. Parmalat is a huge Italian owned corporation which has become the leading global company in the production of long-life milk. Parmalat delivers the permeate, Dairy Distillery pays for transportation and the fermentation process can begin.
Dairy Distillery is the only facility in North America using milk permeate to create consumable alcohol and one of only two in the world. A tiny scattering of other distilleries are using milk whey in their production. The cousins tapped family and some angel investors for this project and received grants from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Dairy Commission.
The distillery is housed in a new and elegantly simple barn-like structure. Its German-made copper Christian Carl stills gleam in the huge glass facade. It currently turns out about 800 bottles of vodka per week and plans to expand into gin and a cream liqueur. In a nod to the days of door to door Ontario milk deliveries, the containers are shaped like old-fashioned milk bottles, a humorous and creative touch.
Dairy Distillery vodka is currently being served in Ottawa’s Restaurant Eighteen and at the Cheshire Cat in Carp. and will appear in the LCBO next spring. Until then, local residents can purchase bottles, as well as T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps at their store at 34 Industrial Drive in Almonte or online.
So let’s raise our glasses to this newest addition to an already thriving foodie community. How do you toast with cow milk vodka – Moo?