“We couldn’t serve the world’s smoothest vodka with anything less than perfect ice!” Jason Barber, Co-Founder of Black Cow Vodka charismatically explains. Located in the rural chalk downs of West Dorset, Black Cow, the brainchild of Jason and his Co-Founder, Paul ‘Archie’ Archard, is a modest distillery with a fascinating history and multi-award winning vodka.
As a dairy farmer, and part of the world’s oldest surviving family of cheddar makers, Jason was all too aware of the high wastage from the traditional farming practice – whey, the excess waste from producing cheese is simply sent for disposal. So when he realised he could use the under-valued, easily accessible by-product and turn it into a superior vodka, Jason knew he was onto a winning formula. Not only could he produce a vodka that was so smooth that it has been recognised on an international level, but he could do it with a naturally occurring product from his own farm.
“Our grass grazed dairy cows are in essence, the most naturally occurring, organic filters of the milk we produce. Separated into curds and whey, the curds are sent away for cheese and the whey is carefully collected for use in the distilling process” says Jason. “This whey contains the lactose sugar that we need to produce the alcohol, which, when combined with a special yeast, ferments to make a milky beer. A secret distilling, blending and filtering method turns the product into the only pure milk vodka available.” The result of this unique distilling process, the world’s smoothest vodka and winner of a prestigious Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition in 2015 amongst other impressive accolades.
A state-of-the-art custom built distillery is located in a lovingly converted barn, where Jason and his team have created a contemporary bar, a fully working kitchen and stylish entertainment space for private hire. It’s here that customers have the opportunity to try the vodka at it’s very best, served by top chefs and bartenders alike.
In creating this interactive guest experience, Jason needed the best of everything to complement his vodka. From beautiful glassware, to the freshest, seasonal garnishes, herbs and flowers, Black Cow has it all, including the very best ice, Hoshizaki ice. “I was first introduced to Hoshizaki at the Universal Cookery & Food Festival at Laverstoke Park Farm in 2016. I knew we needed ice that would cool the drink but didn’t dilute the smooth flavour of our vodka, and I could see that a Hoshizaki ice machine could do just that.” Jason continues. “By freezing the ice at a much lower temperature, it not just lasts longer, but has exceptional clarity too.”
Jason and his team are so passionate about the perfect serve, they now have three Hoshizaki ice machines at the distillery (and Jason even has another at his house!), a flaker, a cubed ice machine and Hoshizaki’s distinctive ball ice machine.
“Ice is a crucial part of a drink. We wouldn’t serve an espresso martini with substandard coffee, so we’re not going to serve a cocktail without the right ice. Our highly trained bartenders create showstopping cocktails using our vodka and the perfect Hoshizaki ice to finish them off” Jason comments. “The ball ice in particular is like nothing I’d seen before. It’s spherical shape and incredible clarity is something to behold and is often as much of a talking point for our guests as our vodka is!”
Aside from the quality of the ice, the service and support from Hoshizaki was also important to Jason, mentioning “Hoshizaki has been so supportive since the very first day. We spoke about our vodka and the offering at our farm in Dorset and they were able to advise us on which machines would best suit. We’ve had Hoshizaki ice machines for a number of years and we’ve never had any issues, but I’m confident that if something wasn’t quite right, they’d be on hand to help us in no time at all.”
With a product regarded so highly around the world, it’s no wonder that Jason chooses Hoshizaki as the ice to partner Black Cow Vodka, concluding “I would have no hesitation in recommending Hoshizaki to everyone. Ultimately if you’re going to drink the world’s smoothest vodka, you should do so with the world’s best ice!”