Award-Winning Vodka Made from Pure Milk Sugar: Possibly the Best Way to Celebrate June Dairy Month

Founders, Heather & Luke Mullins, on one of the dairy farms that produce milk that is crafted into Mullins Cheese & TenHead spirits

TenHead bottles lined up on table with farm in background

Knowlton House Distillery uses the milk sugars left behind from making cheese to craft their award-winning TenHead vodka and gin.

Head distiller checking a distillation of TenHead Vodka

Head Distiller and Co-Founder, Heather Mullins, checking a distillation of TenHead vodka

Wisconsin’s Dairy Month is here & a new distillery has people raising their glasses with spirits distilled from milk sugar, a byproduct of making cheese.

Guests are often surprised that we distill vodka from milk sugar because it’s uncommon. There’s only a handful of distilleries that do it worldwide.”

— Heather Mullins

MOSINEE, WISCONSIN, USA, June 10, 2024 / — June is a month when we celebrate all things dairy – milk, cheese, ice cream, vodka, etc. Wait, vodka?

Newly opened, Knowlton House Distillery is using pure milk sugar (whey), a byproduct of making cheese, as the base ingredient for their award-winning TenHead spirits.

Located just south of Mosinee, Knowlton House was founded by Luke and Heather Mullins. The distillery is a marriage of their respective professions and passions. As a 4th generation cheesemaker with Mullins Cheese, Luke comes from a long line of Wisconsin dairy farmers and cheesemakers.

Heather, educated in distilling with a masters degree in brewing science, had worked as a product development scientist aiding other distilleries and breweries before starting their distillery.

“Guests are often surprised that we distill vodka from milk sugar because it’s uncommon. There’s only a handful of distilleries that do it worldwide. But using milk sugars makes for an exceptionally smooth spirit. ” says Heather Mullins, Head Distiller at Knowlton House. “Dairy is the pride of not only our state, but our family. We’re committed to showing milk sugar spirits at their best.”

It seems that both experts and consumers agree, milk sugars do make premium spirits. At the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the largest spirits tasting competition in the world, both their TenHead Vodka and Woodland Dry Gin were awarded gold from their panel of expert judges.

At the SIP Awards, the only internationally recognized consumer tasting competition, their vodka won platinum and their gin double gold.

“We entered the competitions to get opinions from their expert judges. As a new distillery, that feedback is very valuable.”, said Heather. “While of course we hoped to get a medal, we never expected this. We felt we were crafting something special, but to receive accolades at this level of competition is humbling. It’s exciting that we can bring attention to another delicious use of dairy.”

While distilled from pure milk sugar, TenHead spirits are lactose-free. “During fermentation, we use a special strain of yeast that breaks down the milk sugars and converts them into alcohol. The distillation process essentially boils off the alcohol to purify and concentrate it, leaving behind any residual sugars. We’re left with an exceptionally smooth spirit that is both lactose and gluten-free.”, says Heather.

Knowlton House Distillery opened its doors this past August and began distribution of TenHead spirits in Wisconsin this Spring. TenHead spirits are produced 100% onsite using the milk sugars from the family’s cheese making operation just down the road. Consumers can now find TenHead spirits in liquor stores and bars throughout the Dairy State.

Marissa Jensen
Knowlton House Distillery
+1 715-716-1355
[email protected]
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