It was summers spent on dairy farms as a child that alerted the founders to a potential story. Dairy products, such as cream for ice cream and butter and ultra-filtered milk used for high-demand products like cheese and yogurt. However, left over after these processes is a sugar-rich liquid called milk permeate. With little to no use for dairy farmers, they would have to dispose of this by-product to an economic and environmental disadvantage.
Sensing a compelling narrative that they could turn into an economically viable business, Dairy Distillery decided to strike while the milk was warm.
You can now find Vodkow in over 200 LCBO’s across Canada. But the stories don’t stop here. When the pandemic arose and impacted individuals worldwide, the Dairy Distillery team decided they needed to help. So, while still creating their vodka, they set aside a space in their distillery to create hand sanitizer to be packaged and shipped to hospitals in Ottawa.
The company also prides itself in partnering with local businesses to create flavoured vodka liqueurs. For example, they’ve partnered with the award-winning chocolatiers at Humming Bird chocolate just down the road to create a delicious chocolate cream liqueur. “We want to focus on making the best products we can that fit into our story,” says Neal.
It is these stories that drive Neal and Omid. They expand and experiment according to a compelling story, not a product’s marketability. As a gin lover, one of my first questions was whether a gin was in the works. The answer was non-committal. Of course, they could sell their gin, but why bother without an exciting story to guide the exploration. Whether the tie to sustainability and waste management or the connection to supporting local dairy farmers, the company believes they must stand by the story their products tell to be successful.
Neal and Omid found a compelling narrative in taking an environmentally detrimental waste product and turning it into a sustainably sourced product with room for growth and expansion. You can make a difference, and you can make a living doing so.
Social impact and economic viability, even profitability, are not mutually exclusive. So keep your eyes open. There are stories everywhere.
“We can’t solve all the world’s problems right away, but we can make a delicious product sustainability and hope to inspire others to make a difference.” — Neal McCarten, Director of Operations and co-founder of Dairy Distillery
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