Making vodka out of just 100% cows milk was the invention & dream of Jason Barber, aided and abetted by his old friend Paul Archard (Archie). The milk whey which is a byproduct of cheese making, is fermented into a beer and distilled. Of course there is plenty of dark secret alchemy going on as well, which Jason will touch on during the tour we have been invited to take part in.
On the tour, you are welcomed into the stunning bar & dinning room by Jason & Rebecca Leech (chef) at the distillery, Childhay Manor and the first thing you do is make yourself a Expresso Moo-tini – one shot of ice cold espresso, 1 shot of Black Cow Vodka, 1/2 shot of maple syrup (you can add more if you have a sweet tooth) – shake with ice and pour through a fine strainer – absolutely delicious. A word or warning here – Childhay Manor is in deepest West Dorset and you need to drive to get there, so it will be best to find someone else who is willing to drive you there & back!
Jason is very passionate about his vodka and even more so when he talks about his cattle that produce the milk. His aim was to make the best and purest spirit there is and he has easily achieved that goal. Black Cow Vodka is so smooth, with a hint of sweetness and goes extremely well with food, just think of it as the cream for your strawberries. It can be drunk happily just over ice, but even better & more fun in cocktails.
Fuelled by the warming Moo-tini, Jason takes you next door into the distillery and guides you through the whole process of turning whey into premium vodka. Jason is quality control during each step of the way, tasting and ensuring the vodka is perfect, each bottle is then hand filled – true artisan production.
Then back to the bar, which is a mixologist’s dream, Jason loves to experiment and has vodka infused with orange, lime, lemon, nettles, vanilla, lemongrass and cheese – yes cheese, this and a green olive makes a savoury shot of vodka – try it!
Lets not forget about the cheese, Jason’s family know a thing or two about making the finest Cheddar Cheese, they have been doing it now for over 300 years. You can also purchase this strong 15 month old crumbly cheese from them as well.
It was then time to relax and enjoy the food that had been prepared by Rebecca, all the dishes of course included Black Cow Vodka. The gazpacho was summer fresh & vibrant, with just a hint of Black Cow. This was followed by a light cheese fondue, with Rebecca’s homemade delicious flatbreads & summer vegetables.
After a very relaxing lunch it was time for me to head home, but you can have a cocktail or two more if you wish.
Right I’m off to my local wine merchant and buy a bottle of Black Cow, brew some coffee and make myself a Moo-tini..!
Please note: visits to the distillery are by appointment only, it is not open to the public daily