The Redhead Creamery Distillery is coming soon!
Our distillery will offer:
- Tours & Tastings
- A speakeasy & restaurant
- Cheese & Spirits Pairings
Opening Spring 2024!
Our Spirited Story: Redhead Creamery Spirits
Fermentation, what a wonderful thing. We use fermentation to make cow feed, cows use fermentation to digest their feed to make milk, and we ferment the milk utilizing bacterial cultures to make cheese. That’s three fermentations happening daily at our place. What if we added one more? Where could we go?
If you’ve found this page, you probably already know the answer - alcohol. Beginning in 2018, fermenting dairy became all the buzz; literally, too. Oregon State University was working on a yeast (see “let’s get geeky” below) and making the news for turning milk into alcohol. Lucas, one of the four owners of Redhead Creamery, caught the news article and remembered back to a short article that crossed his desk circa 2011. As an editor at Hoard’s Dairyman magazine, it was much more his job to edit than to write. He did both, but a major part of the job was going through newspapers, magazines and peer-reviewed journals to ensure the best news made it into their publication. “Milk vodka” the article described. He mentioned it to his wife, Alise, and tucked it into the back of his mind.
At the time, the couple was exploring beer and wine during their travels visiting cheese plants. Craft distilleries weren’t much of a thing, and in most states still difficult to start (what’s new?!). But from 2018 to 2023, this relaunch of “milk vodka” news set Lucas on a journey. He read about 60 books on distilling, lactose, fermentation, milk filtration and the history of alcohol; took classes at Oregon State and Moonshine University, networked with anyone who knew anything about the practice, helped spur design of a ultrafilter/nanofilter/reverse-osmosis machine and was bountifully supported by his family and partners through it all.
When Redhead Creamery was first constructed, the family was proud to have visited over 50 farmstead dairy processing plants, collectively. When Lucas started planning Redhead Creamery Spirits, he made it to over 150, and counting. It helps that they’re often close together, in urban areas and in the same places as recent cheese conventions. It also helps that they sell booze.
Thanks to overwhelming support from our families (including a bottle of whey spirits smuggled from California a la Wisconsin to Minnesota for Christmas 2020), friends, fans and customers, Redhead Creamery Spirits commenced construction in 2023. In addition to the people mentioned, financial and technical support was received from the 2018 Farm Bill, State of Minnesota, Minnesota Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, professors at Cornell University, University of Wisconsin-Eau Clare and the University of Georgia. As most know, alcohol is a high risk endeavor due to the large companies and arcane laws involved. Thanks to those mentioned above, we hope to have cut down our risk. Further, a grant from the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance also makes our project an experiment in and of itself - the question is… had we started all over again, would it have been a good investment to build a distillery right away? We’re betting on yes, and hoping to show other cheesemakers how to do it.
Jer-Lindy Farms, Redhead Creamery and Redhead Creamery spirits will be the first and for now only place on earth where the bounty starts as soil, is harvested as milk, is converted into cheese, then whey filtrated as milk sugar and proteins and finally milk sugar is fermented and distilled into spirits. To top it off, we’ll use the water from our milk (milk is 87% water) to literally top off our spirit as proofing water.
We’re excited for you to try it out!