We recently sat down with Paul (Archie) Archard who founded Black Cow with his business partner, dairy farmer Jason Barber to find out about their Secrets of the Biz.
Tell us about Black Cow in 140 characters
Black Cow is a super-premium, velvety-smooth vodka with a deliciously creamy character – made from milk, the first of it’s kind in the world.
There has always been a “spark” when entrepreneurs decide to move forward with an idea, how-what-where-when did this go down and why?
The idea of Black Cow was conceived 5 years ago, through a conversation in West Dorset with a close friend, Jason Barber. This journey of discovery led to finding something really special, now commonly known as Black Cow Vodka. Jason is a most experienced dairy farmer, having farmed for +300 years in West Dorset. He has a deep interest in Vodka, and the conversation led to talking about distilling. At this precise moment, one of Jason’s Polish staff entered the kitchen and announced that although he ‘liked’ their eau de vie, they should consider making better vodka with what they had at hand….. At that moment, Archie looked out of the window to see the 250-strong herd of milk cows right on their doorstep. That was a light bulb moment.
“If you build it, they will come” – How have you built a community around Black Cow?
We intrinsically believe in the value of organically built communities. To nurture that we are focussed on a taste moment – getting people to try our vodka is key. Admittedly when we first tell people that our vodka is made entirely from milk, some are a bit apprehensive to try it. But once they do, they love it. That love for our product has translated to global growth: in just over four years, Black Cow has secured its position in the UK market, launched into California and Canada and achieved wide critical acclaim and won awards. It also helps when celebrities like Stephen Fry, Mariella Frostrup and Cate Blanchett publicly tell their networks how much they enjoy your product. Another way we spread the word is through chefs who create recipes and cocktails with our products (we make cheese too!) Their creative recipes pique interest and introduces our vodka to new audiences – be it, Beppi Crosarioll in Canada or Mark Hix in England.
What are the defining features of Black Cow Vodka that differ from potato vodka?
There is noticeable body and roundness to Black Cow, which ends with a soft, grassy, almost vanilla finish, and no flinty, mineral bite which is characteristic of other vodkas. This softness lends Black Cow to carry flavours, whether a touch of citrus zest or cordial added to it in a cocktail. It’s quite versatile – for example, a clean, chilled Black Cow martini pairs well with oysters, meats and pickled hors d’oeuvres enjoyed with
Black Cow Vodka has been called, the ‘Spirit of the West’. What about your vodka represents where you come from?
We are proud of our West Dorset Heritage, and I imagine this ties into us being the best & preferred vodka out of West Dorset.
Your Vodka is clear, why the name Black Cow?
Black to denote luxury and Cow – in recognition of our dairy origins. Our customer’s really love the animal aspect of our brand, it lends really well to fun cocktail names like a the “Espresso Mootini”.
What’s been the most exciting part of watching your business grow?
For us, it’s been watching people concoct really creative recipes reflective of their hometown with our vodka. Take our newest UK Ambassador for example, Dustin Macmillan, who originally hails from Toronto. He’s recently created a cocktail called the Black Milk Caesar, which I’m told is quite popular in Canada. We’ve seen bartenders and chefs all over the world create very unique cocktails using Black Cow it’s been quite inspiring to see our product at the heart of such a passionate creative community.