Drink your big Black Cow and get out of here


Late one summer Saturday morning, Mr Grigg and I - along with Nobby Odd-Job and Spanish John - venture out from Lush Places for an ‘experience day’ at Black Cow Vodka.

It’s approximately eight minutes by car from the village, but we still manage to get lost, deep in the Dorset hinterland.

“I thought it was this way,” Mr Grigg says to our good friend and neighbour, Mrs Bancroft, who’s agreed to drive us there and pick us up again three hours later.

“And I thought it was this way,” I respond, pointing in the opposition direction.

Spanish pipes up to save the day - and our marriage. He connects to the map app on his mobile phone, which politely directs us on our way. And then it blots its copybook by suggesting we go on the road to nowhere up an unmade track.

“I don’t think it’s up there,” says a cautious Nobby Odd-Job. “We should just follow the lane.”

Round the corner and there’s a Black Cow sign. At last we’ve made it - but with only minutes to spare. And then Mrs B remembers she has her own sat nav on the car in any case.

We say goodbye to Mrs B and find ourselves in a swish, converted outbuilding next to an ancient manor house. We’re greeted by our hostess, Rebecca, who mixes us an espresso martini at the crisp, white bar while she tells us, in honeyed, sing-song Irish tones, the company’s story.


Her chat is accompanied by a smooth soundtrack featuring the appropriately-named track, Black Cow, by one of my all-time favourite bands, Steely Dan.


This unique spirit is made from milk, hence its name. It was invented by a local dairy farmer with a long love of vodka and hatred of waste. His family makes cheese, a process that produces an excess of whey, which has always been undervalued and much of it gets thrown away.

Well, Mr Black Cow was in conversation over the supper table with a Polish friend about the dairy industry's problem child. Lo and behold, they came up with the idea of making vodka from the discarded whey.

The beauty of Black Cow is that it's really smooth, its softness retaining delicate flavours. And, apparently, it doesn't give you a hangover when you drink it.


It’s been an incredible success story, with the Black Cow brand being seen in all the right places, with fans including locally-born chef Mark Hix, actor Orlando Bloom and film director Ridley Scott.

It’s a marketing person’s dream. Moo-sic to our ears. You can drink it till the cows come home. You get the gist.

After another cocktail, a nibble on some beautiful Black Cow cheese and a bit of locally-smoked salmon, it’s off into the distillery. We marvel at the gorgeous bit of kit that performs the magic and turns whey into vodka.

Like something from inside Jules Verne’s head, this copper machine looks like it could tell tall stories. Her name is Ermintrude, after the cow on The Magic Roundabout. She’s lovely. We all raise a glass to her.


And then it’s into the bottling section, which is staffed by two ladies who do all the work by hand. We see a batch of miniature bottles which Rebecca tells us are destined for Mongolian Airlines. You couldn't make it up.


The whole thing is a bit like a mini, alcoholic version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. I tell Mr Grigg not to get too close to Ermintrude in case he gets sucked up her pipes and ends up pickled.

It’s back into the bar for another cocktail or two and then the most wonderful, Hix-inspired lunch of English asparagus with a Black Cow cheese fondue, scrumptious scallops and a buttermilk pudding with rhubarb. Thank you, Rebecca.

I’m fit to burst. We all are.



We have a coffee and a long, vodka-infused summer drink and then Rebecca opens the shop – a nifty little sidecar attached to a Harley Davidson.


In the words of the song, we drink our big Black Cow and get out of here, arms full of cheese, vodka and T-shirts.

Back in the car, we get halfway home when Spanish realises he’s left his jacket behind. Mrs Bancroft takes us back to Black Cow, only for me to be stung by a bumble bee, which was obviously unhappy about not being part of the distillery tour.

So it’s home again, home again, jiggedy-jig, back into Lush Places where we have to wait while the cattle are moved to new pastures.


That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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