'Typically New Zealand': Whangamata man launches sheep milk vodka

A Whangamata man is making the most of New Zealand's growing sheep milk industry, launching the world's first vodka made from the product.

The White Sheep Milk Co vodka is made from fermented and distilled New Zealand sheep milk, and is described as having "quite a sheep milk aroma and taste".

The product is the brainchild of Whangamata man Sam Brown, who told Magic Talk's Ryan Bridge that the idea came to him during a night out with friends.

"I was working overseas and was out with a bunch of friends, from different countries," he said.

He said they decided to have a drink from each of their respective homelands.

"We had tequila from Mexico, brandy from France and whisky from Scotland - but when it got to me, there was a blank, there was no drink that had a link to New Zealand," said Brown.

The sheep milk is converted into alcohol at a distillery in Tauranga.
The sheep milk is converted into alcohol at a distillery in Tauranga. Photo credit: Supplied

He said he considered a few options, including using New Zealand natives plants, but decided that sheep was better known internationally.

"Obviously everyone knows us for sheep, especially overseas, so it had a good fit."

On discovering that the sheep milk industry was growing in New Zealand, he approached Massey University, where he spent time researching the technology.

He said using sheep's milk wasn't straightforward, but worth it for the unique taste.

"To convert the sugars from sheep's milk, you have to use special yeast."

The distilling process takes about 12 days and is carried out in Tauranga.

Brown said people are intrigued by the sheep's milk vodka, and describes it as a "talking point product".

He is now working on getting the product into Asia, in time for the Rugby World Cup.

Watch the full interview with Sam Brown and Ryan Bridge on Magic Talk.