The Jersey Cow spirits distilled by Ryebeck!
Jersey is an island of contrasts. Part of the British Isles, yet not part of the UK, it retains its own unique identity. British with a sense of La Belle France, you can use UK currency there but also pay in Jersey pound notes in towns with French names. Close to the coast of Normandy, it even has its own language, Jèrriais (Jersey Norman French). Beautiful coves and beaches adorn an island that’s small – only 5 miles long and 9 miles wide – yet rich in agriculture with centuries of farming history. Jersey is also renowned for the high quality of its dairy produce and now boasts two unique new spirits, Jersey Cow Vodka and Jersey Cow Gin.
The Jersey Cow Distillery
Sam Pierce is the founder and Managing Director of The Jersey Cow Distillery. The company distils milk and cream from the island into vodka and gin.
Born in Jersey, Sam grew up in the hospitality business, before working in hotels and bars across the world. Moving back to the island, in April 2019, he embarked on a one-month mixology course in London with the European Bartender School. “We had a day on vodka and tried a dairy one“, he describes. “As I’m from Jersey, I didn’t stop thinking about it!“, he adds. So, the idea for creating his own Jersey dairy vodka was born.
Ryebeck’s Master Distiller
A distillers’ workshop soon followed, which prompted Sam to look for help in creating his own distillery on the island. He found Ryebeck online and spoke to Managing Director, Tim Prime, about his plans. When COVID-19 lockdown hit, he and his business partners then decided that it would be better to opt for a contract distiller. As a result, Tim put Sam in touch with Ryebeck’s Master Distiller, Craig Law. Talking throughout lockdown, they decided that Craig would develop a dairy vodka recipe.
There are very few companies in the world using milk to create vodka or gin. However, there is only one distillery using Jersey milk. Sam explains further about the unique qualities of this innovative ingredient. “The acid in the milk here makes it so creamy, unlike milk from anywhere else in the world. I wouldn’t use any other dairy product. The grass on Jersey has unique fatty acids and nutrients, which I believe make higher quality [milk and cream] than using Jersey cows from somewhere else. We have the dairy and the story. We have everything, but Craig has done such an amazing job in putting all that together and has given us an amazing product. Top sommeliers on the island have been giving us 9/10 for the vodka!”
Sam arranges shipment of the milk and cream from Jersey Dairy to Ryebeck’s purpose-built distillery in South Yorkshire. Craig then distils it using the recipe he designed. With Craig’s expertise, the vodka was ready for release in time for Christmas 2021 and the gin in October 2022.
Craig and Sam also worked on the branding together, using one of Craig’s contacts, Nico Tjarks from Kingpin Design. Ultimately, they decided on Sam’s vision of a more traditional design with a Jersey twist. The logo on the front of the bottle is based on a Jersey cow bell. The back label shows Mont Orgueil Castle, a special childhood memory for Sam and a popular tourist attraction today.
Building the relationship with Ryebeck
Sam values hugely the relationship he has built with Ryebeck since he first approached Tim and Craig in 2019. “I contacted quite a lot of distilleries before going with Ryebeck“, he recalls. With plans to eventually move into Asian markets, he needed a company that had the capacity to handle large orders. Ryebeck, with three 5000L stills at their distillery in Goole, was the perfect solution.
The Ryebeck team are known for their professionalism, working closely with clients to develop a trusting relationship. Speaking many times throughout lockdown and afterwards, Sam soon regarded Craig and Nico as personal friends. He is extremely happy with how things worked out and most of this, he says, is down to Craig. “I had a vision. I was very forthcoming on how I wanted things to be. Craig and Nico took my vision and made it happen. That, for me, is special.”
Future plans for the Jersey Cow Distillery
The Jersey Cow Distillery will soon be releasing a black label premium vodka. This is based on their other vodka with the same taste, but has a uniquely different nose which has been compared to tequila. This was the one that Craig had originally developed, but which they then adapted before releasing the vodka on the market. Additionally, they will have a pink gin, infused with blueberries.
Sam is still planning on having his own distillery on the island at some stage. However, he sees this more for tourists with small, boutique accommodation and a function space. While he may use this distillery for supplying the home market, he regards Ryebeck as his first choice for larger, international markets, like Asia.
Staying with Ryebeck
Sam has dual nationality with New Zealand, the country of his mother’s birth and one which has close trading ties to Asia. He is, therefore, considering establishing a distillery over there and would likely use Ryebeck to install and manage it. “Craig and Ryebeck are in my future now“, he says. “We started all this together and it’s been a cool journey that Craig and myself have been on. I can’t recommend Ryebeck enough and I wouldn’t see my future without them. I have 100% faith in everything they do.”
If you want to discuss future distillation projects, then Ryebeck can help. You can call the team on +44 (0) 800 689 3216 or contact them via their online form.
Author: Robin Goldsmith of The Write Taste