We’ve been hearing about amazing farm-to-table restaurants for years—something about free-range fowl, seasonal produce and wild-caught seafood takes culinary experiences to another level. But an Irish gin-maker has revamped this philosophy with a “field-to-fork” ethos that’s resulted in some truly unique booze.
Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin is the ultimate liquor for anyone who loves all things locally sourced and carefully crafted. The gin is made with whey alcohol from local dairy farmers in Cork, natural well water and a mix of foraged and grown botanicals, like juniper, coriander, almond and elderflower. Don’t be fooled by the name — there’s not actual milk in this gin, but it’s made with whey alcohol, a byproduct of dairy production. Talk about no waste!
Co-founder Justin Green talked about how he and his partner, Antony Jackson, employ their field-to-fork philosophy at Ballyvolane House, the country house hotel that is also home to their distillery. The hotel has a rotating seasonal menu featuring vegetables from their garden, wild salmon from a nearby river and rare-breed pigs, hens and ducks from their farm.
“Where possible, we use whatever is growing in the gardens and this is what we mean by ‘field-to-fork.’ We wanted to apply this ‘grass-to-glass’ concept to our gin, and we wanted to produce a gin that was evocative of our terroir… this led us to use whey alcohol as our base spirit. The whey [comes] from milk produced by local dairy farmers in Cork.”
Most grain neutral spirit used by gin distillers in Ireland is imported from mainland Europe, but Justin and Antony wanted to use something that came from Ireland. Using the whey has been a win-win: It ticks their field-to-fork boxes, and Justin says it’s wonderfully rich and smooth.
If you’re not a big fan of gin, these guys have plans for expansion. They’re aiming to release vodka in 2017, and are expanding their gin line to have new flavors and fruit infusions. We’ve heard Bertha’s Revenge is tasty on it’s own or with a splash of water, but I think this would be pretty tasty in a classic gin and tonic.
As for the name? The founders of Bertha’s Revenge wanted to use an eye-catching and distinctive name for the brand that also represented the region’s dairy farming heritage. Bertha, or “Big Bertha,” was a legendary cow who lived to nearly 49-years-old. She gave birth to 39 calves, earning a spot in the Guinness Book of Records. Bertha was a regular at local fairs and lead the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, where her presence helped raise money for cancer relief charities. So I think she deserves to have a gin named after her.