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Hartshorn Distillery shares land with Grandvewe Cheeses. We’re the same family doing different things with the same goal — reduce waste, look after each other, look after the planet. So when it comes to our products, if there’s a swill, there’s some whey.
Whey’s often thrown out in the cheesemaking process and we wanted to find a way to repurpose the excess. So, armed with a welding rod, an old beer keg and a lot of internet research, we began trying to convert it into palatable alcohol.
It started with vodka. Double-distilled and unfiltered. Most distilleries take just under half their yield but we like minimal impurities and maximum quality, so we only use the best 10 percent of each distillate. It’s a long production process for 150 bottles a batch, but it’s what carries the whey through to the finished spirit and gives it the complex character, beautiful creaminess and sweet finish that sets it apart from anything else around.
The vodka didn’t do too badly so we turned our attention to gin. Again, sheep’s whey, but also a homage to the land we’re lucky enough to live and work on. We use an array of native botanicals — lemon myrtle, anise myrtle, wattleseed, juniper berries, Tasmanian pepper leaf — alongside two others that haven’t been used by any other gin-makers before. We also dabble in whey-based liqueur (a swill that gets you swole — you’re welcome) and a very special whey-sky — the Hartshorn spin on whiskey(ish) distilling and another world-first under our boozy belt.
Hartshorn was born from a need to reduce waste and a desire to flip the script on traditional spirit-making and flip the bird to those who said it couldn’t happen. We’ve been told our packaging process — hand-painting and individually signing our name to our bottles — is ridiculous. And, look, maybe it is, but it’s also fizzy-knickers sexy and one of the most iconic bottle designs in Australia, holding its own on any bar shelf. We’ve also been told our small batch process is unsustainable. It’s not only still going, but it’s making some of the country’s most distinctive and award-winning craft spirits.
From the very beginning, we believed in all of this because we believed in the values it was being built on. We just wanted to make something good, something unique, that we’d held in our hands from start to finish. We’re gonna keep doing that, but it’s real nice that what we do has come to mean something to others too.
While we’re Wonka-ing away at making whey into vodka anyway, we figured we’d go the whole hog and get in on the golden ticket action so we added one of these golden boys to every batch. Can’t buy ‘em, just gotta order your swag and hope for the best. Every now and then we’ll send one off to some of our favourite little bottle shops, so keep an eye on the ‘gram.