Hay’s Daze: I wonder if you can make booze out of that stuff

I wasn’t even sure I heard correctly. The people on my car radio were talking away and I wasn’t really paying attention because some moron was tailgating me at the time, but I thought I heard them say “vodkow”. Vodkow? What the heck is a vodkow, I thought to myself after slowing down to 15 km/hr so that the tailgater would get frustrated and zoom by me, giving me the bird. He did, and I smiled at him ironically and turned up the radio.

I found out from the conversation people were having on the radio that vodkow is exactly what you might imagine, although I imagine it didn’t come immediately to mind. Vodka from a cow. My own immediate thought was of a 200 kilogram four-legged big ole Bessie wandering about in one of those dingy little Russian apartments until somebody calls out: “It’s time for our 10 am vodka!” and everybody in the family starts chanting “SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!” like 20 year olds at a bar, and they all rush over to the bloated bovine with their shot glasses, gather around the udder and start squirting.

Vodka from a cow? “That can’t be right”, I said right out loud to the car radio and I turned it up real loud on account of being pathologically curious and also half deaf from loud rock music.

It turns out that a couple guys in a place called Almonte, Ontario noticed that after butter, cheese and ice cream is made from milk, the rest of the skim milk stuff is just dumped. So, of course, they said to each other – as anyone would: “I wonder if you can make booze out of that stuff!?”

So they took the skim milk sugar liquid stuff to the University of Ottawa, and asked the biologists there to find some sort of yeast that would turn the stuff into vodka. A perfectly reasonable request to ask of biologists who let’s face it aren’t really normal people anyway, and voila – Vodkow!

So the two guys, McDonald and McCarten, took a couple of years, raised a bunch of dough through friends and family, bought a special still from Germany, built a big all-glass barn-shaped distillery and tasting room, and just a few days ago officially launched “Dairy Distillery”.

Vodkow fans say vodka made from cow’s milk looks like any other vodka except that it has “absolutely no burn, a sweet smell and a caramel-y finish.” It’s been called “a very smooth experience”, and MacDonald and McCarten say that “people are telling us that it’s good to sip on its own, which is pretty rare in a vodka.” Yes, I would venture to say that vodka from a cow is “pretty rare”. In fact, the Dairy Distillery in Ontario is the only bovine booze bottler, and as yet nobody else has jumped on the milk moonshine hay wagon.

I would, of course, in the interest of journalism and obligation to my tens of readers, personally sample sufficient quantities of Vodkow in order to report on its “palate”, “nose”, “finish” and “blotto factor”, however, it seems the lactose-free liquor is not yet available locally.

It will be easy to spot however, because the new “milk-based spirit” is sold in – wait for it…. milk bottles.

You gotta love these guys. Business people, farmer people, crazy people who look at milk and see booze. And, by the way – they say if you don’t like your Vodkow straight you can always make it into a cocktail with cream liquors and White Russians. You know, a udderly delicious “Moo-tini.”

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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