From chomping cheese to chinking glasses… Jason’s story is quite the revelation. Black Cow vodka is the first and ONLY vodka to be made entirely out of milk – using what otherwise would be considered a waste part of the milk. The love he has for farming and his team is admirable, and despite his vodka being distributed globally – he remains deliciously humble.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:02:20 Meeting Jason Barber, setting the scene in West Dorset
00:03:40 The Barber history, and the start of Jason’s story… A family of farmers
- 00:04:31 “How many cows? At the moment, I have 270.”
- 00:05:30 “My brother is very much into his pigs, he won Smithfield market – Smithfield show when he was about 14 years old.”
00:06:05 How long had Jason been farming before vodka came up?
- 00:07:21 “I’ve always drunk vodka, loved vodka, and black cow is born out of my love of vodka – work and play hard, basically.”
00:07:35 The story of Joseph – who’s been with Jason for 15 years, and helped him achieve making milk into vodka
00:09:10 The story of Archie – co-founder of Black Cow, a man with a marketing head
00:10:39 The vodka process itself, from start to finish
- 00:14:13 “The best things in life are trial and error… It had been done before, but we were the first ones and the only ones to make vodka entirely out of milk”
00:15:03 The challenges of developing the process, and the magic that is google!
- 00:16:34 “It was a Eurika moment when I tasted the first batch. It was just so good.”
00:16:44 What did the rest of the family think of Jason’s idea?
00:18:00 Black Cow selling their first bottle of vodka in 2012
00:18:52 How quickly did Black Cow take off? The growth in artisan drink makers
00:20:35 Why is there more gin than vodka?
- 00:20:45 “I find that gin drinkers… I’d like to call them tarts – they’ve probably got five different gins at home. Every time they go out, they go ‘oh I haven’t tried that gin before’, so they try that one. There isn’t very much brand loyalty.”
00:21:44 Black Cow was instantaneously popular – selling 3,000 bottles in the first year – and 130,000 now
00:23:00 How did Jason and the team manage to ramp up the speed of production so quickly? The importance of a good team
00:24:23 Marketing Black Cow, getting the word out after nailing the product
00:26:00 Talking supermarkets, the Black Cow cheddar was already there. What about the vodka?
- 00:27:40 “We are distributing all over the country.”
- 00:28:10 Visit days to the distillery – why Jason loves having the barman see how the vodka is made
00:29:45 Archie heading over the USA, getting A-listers to try Black Cow Vodka
00:32:29 The balance between being in supermarkets and staying in premium bars
- Talking about Weatherspoon’s: 00:34:00 “You’ve gotta work with those sorts of places, because you can’t stop them from having it – if you don’t sell it to them, they’re gonna buy it from somewhere else.”
00:34:23 Sustainability, and the importance of it to Jason
- 00:35:27 “Every year, we do a cocktail competition. So the first year, we did it out of foraging. Last year we did it from no waste cocktails… So it is quite close to our hearts.”
- 00:36:33 “We’ve got some straws made of straw, some bamboo ones.”
00:37:13 Looking back at all that’s happened, how does Jason feel?
- 00:37:36 “If I’d just done it on my own, I’d probably just be doing a few farmers markets or something… that’s why you need that team of people that have the expertise in other things that you are not an expert in.”
00:38:41 What’s next for Jason and Black Cow?
- 00:38:52 “There’s always plenty to do. Everyone’s always said – why don’t you make a gin?”
- 00:40:24 Strawberry vodka – how do you keep these British all year round?
00:40:54 Does Jason still milk the cows? Still introducing himself as a farmer
00:41:44 Did Jason’s family think he’d gone mad, or support him?
00:42:21 Advice from Jason – good and bad for those who want to open a business
00:45:02 Where can you go to find out more about Jason, Black Cow and buy the product?
00:47:24 Marks final thoughts
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