The classic White Russian cocktail comprises of vodka, a coffee liqueur and cream, served with ice. If you don’t have cream, milk will do. But what if you could make the vodka out of milk too? That’s where TMK Creamery comes in.
Todd Koch is the owner of TMK Creamery and his idea of making vodka from milk came after reading about Dr. Paul Hughes—an Assistant Professor of Distilled Spirits at Oregon State University— who had tested whether a way to ferment whey into a neutral spirits base solution that was “both environmentally sustainable and cost-effective for small creameries”.
Large, corporate-owned creameries can afford the expensive equipment that converts whey into profitable products such as protein powder. But at his family-owned, 20-cow farmstand creamery, Koch and his wife simply fed their whey into the fields through a nutrient management system. Rather than continue to bury the byproduct, Koch decided to ferment as a means of profitably upcycling the whey while bringing visibility to his animals. He teamed up with Dr. Hughes and a nearby distiller to manufacture the creamery’s newest product: a clear, vodka-like liquor they call “Cowcohol.”
But, according to Atlas Obscura, Koch isn’t the only “cowcohol” distiller in the world.
- There’s a dairy farmer from West Dorset who makes Black Cow Vodka from whey.
- Tasmania’s Hartshorn Distillery makes vodka and gin from sheeps’ whey.
- Dairy Distillery in Ontario, Canada makes “Vodkow” in a similar way to TMK