An award-winning Dorset brand, Black Cow Vodka has discovered a compelling way to repurpose the whey leftover from cheese-making. Whey has long been the problem child of the dairy industry but this ingenious local farm has switched it from underrated by-product to a premium spirit that’s very drinkable.

Committed to supporting the environment through innovation, Black Cow’s Global Marketing Director Kate Harrison tells us about what inspired their milk vodka and how to create the perfect martini. Black Cow Vodka is served in Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant.

Where did the idea for Black Cow Vodka come from?

'Made on England’s south-west coast, Black Cow is the invention of West Dorset dairy farmer, Jason Barber. Jason was looking to diversify the produce from his 250-strong dairy herd and so, along with creative Paul Archard, he set about creating the world’s first pure milk vodka in 2012.'

What effect does the milk have on the flavour of the vodka?

'The fact that our pure milk vodka is made from the milk of grass-grazed cows and nothing else results in an incredibly smooth spirit with a unique creamy character. The soft, rounded mouth feel of Black Cow comes from the fact that the vodka has a very low mineral content, unlike a lot of other premium vodkas which have more of a flinty taste due to the mineral-rich and hard spring waters those vodkas are made with.'

Does Dorset inspire your work?

'We think that Dorset is the most beautiful place in the world! Not only is it naturally beautiful, but it is also the home of considerable creative excellence. It inspires a lot of our creative work—and we work with a local illustrator frequently for various items that can be found at the distillery and are finding their way into trade.'

Talk us through the thinking behind your gold-plated straws…

'We are concerned about the world’s waste crisis. The UK discards a staggering 8.5 billion plastic straws a year and a plastic straw, which was manufactured from petroleum, shipped around the world, placed in your drink and then used for 10 minutes, will now exist for at least 100 years. That didn’t seem right to us so we made the decision to offer an alternative to the plastic straw, by including a 24-carat gold-plated stainless steel straw in each gift pack.'

What’s your favourite vodka-based cocktail?

'I think Black Cow makes the most fantastic martini—I like the simplicity of the ingredients and, when made well, you can really taste the unique properties of Black Cow.'

Can you tell us a bit about the experiences that visitors can enjoy at your West Dorset distillery?

'We have developed our distillery experiences to provide visitors with the ultimate Black Cow experience. Jason is often at the distillery and he loves nothing more than demonstrating and showing those interested how he makes Black Cow—alongside his pride and joy, Ermentrude, our beautiful still!'

What does a perfect day in Dorset look like to you?

'My perfect day in Dorset would start with lunch at the Black Cow Bar and Kitchen at Childay with Jason, discussing and trying his latest cocktails and trying some locally sourced, fresh and seasonal dishes prepared by our resident chef. After that, I like to head into Lyme Regis for a walk through the town and a trip out fishing off the coast if the weather is good. I’d then take my fresh fish up to HIX Oyster & Fish House, where the excellent chefs would prepare it in a myriad of tasty ways.'

Are there any other made-in-Dorset brands that you admire?

'We work with a number of Dorset-based brands—Mark Hix is a close friend of the brand, along with Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, from which we make deliciously cold and silky espresso martinis in the summer.'