‘Creamstillery’ Opens in Minnesota

Redhead Creamery owners Lucas Sjostrom, Alise Sjostrom, Linda Jennissen and Jerry Jennissen

According to Brooten, Minnesota-based Redhead Creamery, the world’s first “creamstillery”—a cheese plant and distillery all under one roof—is now fully operational.

Redhead Creamery’s facility continues to include the award-winning cheese plant and store, which opened in 2014. Additions include a new farm-tour welcome and tasting area, an expanded kitchen and restaurant, automated cheese aging rooms, and a state and federally licensed winery and distillery. But here, the main attraction is Azro’s Araga—milk wine distilled into whey spirit. Components also come from the family’s one-acre apple orchard. The restaurant features both meals and dessert, with Minnesota-made beers, ciders and wines also available.

“With today’s construction environment, we spent a lot of time waiting, wanting and hoping alongside our contractors and customers,” said Alise Sjostrom, Redhead Creamery president and CEO. “Thankfully, we’ve got all public areas complete and we’re excited to say, ‘It’s ready!’”

Adds Lucas Sjostrom, Alise’s husband and VP of bubbles, “I’ve visited nearly 200 distilleries to try to bring the best components into our shop. We’re excited to bring you cheese and spirits, both made 100% on-site and all thanks to our cows.”

In collaboration with Ida Graves Distillery, the Creamery already unveiled Batch 0 of their whey spirit—Azro Araga—during their annual June Curd Fest. Azro is named after the first premier creameryman in Minnesota—Azro P. McKinstry—who took the Minnesota exhibit and won the dairy division at the 1886 World’s Fair. As the first and the best, Redhead Creamery hopes their spirit follows his example.

The company also sells a 32.4 Mile Corn Vodka, and will soon add gin, aquavit and other spirits. Cocktails, including the AzrOld Fashioned, A. Pickle McKinstry and Azro Sour, are also available during their regular business hours, Thursday through Saturday.

Redhead Creamery joins the ranks of a handful of other distillers in the country and dozen or so in the world in making whey-based spirits, but claims it is the only one filtering, fermenting and distilling all under one roof. Whey-based alcohol drinks date back thousands of years, with modern technology making small and large scale whey-based alcohol available today.

Traditionally, cheese whey can be fed to the cows, and in some areas is even landfilled. At scale, most Midwest cheese plants dry the whey into useable proteins and sugars. But the Redhead Creamery partners believe that the use for human grade alcohol might be the most fun way to reuse and recycle.

At Redhead Creamery, it’s an evolution of what co-owners Jerry and Linda Jennissen, Alise’s parents, began in 1983. Hoping to build a farm they could share with family, friends, and strangers, the family now milks 200 cows, from beginning with 30 cows in a tie-stall barn to now robotic milkers, electronic activity monitors, robotic manure collectors and a robotic feed re-sorter, the barn continues to evolve with the times and technology.

“We’re so excited to unveil this next phase of our farm,” said Jerry Jennissen, VP of talking to strangers at Redhead Creamery and head farmer at Jer-Lindy Farms. “It’s really allowing us to come full circle.”

“Azro is an amazing concept for us, and our visitors, that you can turn milk into alcohol,” Linda Jennissen, VP of taste at Redhead Creamery. “But our mission is to work with and serve people and have fun doing it, and I’m not sure there’s a better example of it than in our whey spirits.”

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