Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Milking the industry: Meet the Cork men winning awards for their milk-based gin

Bertha's Revenge gin
Bertha's Revenge gin

Rebecca Lumley

A milk-based gin made on a farm in Co Cork has won the top prize in the biggest competition for alcoholic spirits in the world.

Bertha’s Revenge, which is distilled in a cattle shed in east Cork trumped over 2,200 competitors in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, taking home the gold medal after a panel of judges blind-tasted the drink.

Produced on the grounds of Ballyvolane House by friends Justin Green and Anthony Jackson, the gin is based on whey alcohol that comes from a local dairy farm in Carberry.

The whey, which is generally regarded as a waste product from cheese production, is fermented to form alcohol in Carberry and then transported to Ballyvolane House, a guesthouse run by Mr Green and his wife. There it is distilled and infused with 18 foraged and grown botanicals.

Speaking to, Mr Green said a commitment to producing fully Irish gin drove the decision to use milk-based alcohol.

He said: “At Ballyvolane we have a farm to fork mentality. We wanted to employ that ethos with Bertha’s Revenge as well.

“Most gins are made from grain spirits, which are produced in mainland Europe. We were having problems sourcing Irish grain spirit when a distillery in London recommended whey to us. We tried it and loved it.”

According to Mr Green, the whey alcohol has “a very different mouth texture and feel,” separating it from other spirits in the “over-saturated” craft gin market.

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Noticing the growing popularity of gin, Mr Green said Bertha’s Revenge entered the market just in time, noting “when we began there were five craft gins in Ireland and now there are over 30.”

Named after the country’s oldest cow “Big Bertha”, who lived to 49-years-old and died in 1993, Bertha’s Revenge currently ships to eight countries around the world. Between 500 and 700 bottles are produced each week, all distilled, bottled and packaged on the Ballyvolane farm.

While some part-time staff assist with the gin’s production, the brunt of the work is carried out by Mr Green and Mr Jackson, who hope to expand the business in the coming months.

Bertha’s Revenge will be available in the US from August, with plans in place to export to Scandinavia by the end of the year.

Enjoying the unusual product’s surge in popularity, Mr Green said:

“It’s hard work but we’re having a huge amount of fun. The business is taking us places you’d never have on your holiday plan and you get to meet new, like minded people from all around the world.

“We’re very lucky.”

Bertha’s Revenge was also awarded the prestigious Irish Drink Award earlier this year and is available through selected retailers in Ireland, as well as stocked in a growing number of bars throughout the country.

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