Wisconsin-based Native American distillery Copper Crow is using whey to make vodka and gin. Whey (the liquid byproduct of cheesemaking) gives the liquors a creamy, sweet, sake-like taste.Copper Crow one of only a handful of distilleries in the world that makes whey-based spirits.
Whey can be difficult to dispose of. Every pound of cheese leaves behind nine pounds of whey, but it cannot be poured down a drain or into farm fields because it consumes oxygen. Many cheesemakers use it for animal feed or fertilizer.
“The market for the protein-rich, lactose-clouded liquid is minuscule — mostly makers of workout snacks and wellness tonics — but distillers represent a small yet emerging new customer base, with American producers beginning to follow the lead of those in the U.K., France, Australia, and New Zealand,” reads an article on Copper Crow in Fortune.
Copper Crow sits on the Red Cliff Reservation, with Lake Superior artesian aquifers providing pristine water. Owners Curtis and Linda Basina are members of the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa. Prohibition laws from 1834, though, barred Native Americans from trading alcohol on their reservations.So it would be illegal to run a distillery on their reservation.
The Bassinas found a loophole to the racially-motivated ban — they own title to the land where the distillery is located. Their application was approved, “a watershed moment for Native American entrepreneurs long denied a slice of a booming craft-distilling industry.”
Read more (Fortune)