(Editors note: We first connected with the Wheyward Spirit team, led by Founder & CEO Emily Darchuk, at the 2023 California Artisan Cheese Festival - a wonderful cheese-filled gathering held annually in Sonoma County, California - an epic epicenter of epicurean excellence. We think that creating artisanal spirits using cheese whey (instead of corn, wheat, potatoes, etc) is pretty cool, and thought you might be interested in their story, as told by the Wheyward team. Three Chee(rs)(ses) to Emily and her crew for their crafty cheese-based creation!)
Wheyward Spirit: The Spirit Pairing Made for Cheese
At Wheyward Spirit, we’re taking farm-to-flask to the next level by handcrafting specialty spirits made from upcycled whey for the perfect drink pairings to enjoy alongside your favorite California cheeses. The goal with Wheyward Spirit was to create spirits where you can taste a difference and make a difference™, and we took that to heart in every step of building our brand and making our products.
Why We Went Wheyward with Whey
As much as we all love cheese, its production comes with a cost – an estimated 110 billion pounds of excess whey are leftover after making all of our favorite cheeses each year, and much of that heads right down the drain or to the field.
For every ten pounds of milk, only one pound of cheese curds is created, which leaves behind nine pounds of whey, a mild, slightly sweet, nutrient-dense liquid. This excess creates logistical and ecological burdens for producers and the local communities as about half of this remaining whey leaves the human foodchain.
But our Founder, Emily Darchuk, realized that what many see as this wasted co-product is not truly waste but an opportunity to bridge a gap in the supply chain and handcraft a product that adds value to both cheese producers and spirit customers. Rather than letting this ingredient be discarded, Wheyward Spirit is tapping into this liquid gold by upcycling whey to create our delicious specialty spirits.
As the first alcohol to use the Real California Milk seal, we proudly partner with California cheese producers to source our whey and distill our spirits right here in Sonoma County, California, for the ultimate Farm-to-Flask spirit.
Sippable, Sustainable, Specialty
By upcycling whey instead of using a traditional grain, fruit, or agave to create Wheyward Spirit and Wheyward Wheyskey, these spirits reduce gallons of waste with every bottle, have a lower carbon and water footprint than traditional spirits, and support the domestic food system and producers.
Wheyward Spirit is Certified Carbon Neutral and Wheyward Wheyskey takes our goals one step further by taking the award-winning flavor of Wheyward Spirit and sustainably aging in re-coopered oak barrels.
Rather than fitting into a traditional spirit category like vodka or whiskey, we took our “Taste a Difference and Make a Difference™”mentality to heart and handcrafted Specialty spirits focused on flavor, velvety smoothness, and versatility. Just as you can make a variety of cheeses with milk, we were inspired to take an artisan approach to spirit fermentation and distillation rather than following the status quo of spirit production, allowing us to be the base for all your favorite cocktails and the smooth and sippable choice to drink straight.
Bringing together two industries is no simple feat. But with unique sourcing and a different approach to handcrafting our spirits, Wheyward Spirit is building a bridge between the alcohol and dairy industries to add value and improve the sustainability of both.
Elevate Your Cheeseboard with Wheyward Spirit Cocktail Pairings
Paired alongside California cheese, our spirits help to tell a whole food story, connecting you to where your food comes from and bringing a new, unique experience to your cocktail and food choices.
With Wheyward Spirit and Wheyward Wheyskey, you’ll have a simple and versatile two-bottle cocktail solution, so no matter the types of cheese and flavor profiles on your board, you can create a customized drink pairing for any occasion for an elevated experience.
We invite you to ditch the traditional wine pairings and enter the exciting world of cocktails and cheese. With endless cocktail inspiration, from bold and spirit-forward drinks like our New Era or The Whey to Manhattan to light and refreshing options like Milk & Honey, the Wheyward Paloma, or the Golden Wheyskey, you can create a drink for every delicious cheese occasion.
Join the Wheyward Journey
WheywardSpirit is a first-of-its-kind, award-winning, 80-proof specialty spirit with velvety smooth notes of oaky vanilla and warm spice. It’s perfect for sipping on the rocks with a twist of lemon or as an elevated alternative to atraditional clear base spirit like vodka, tequila, gin, or rum in cocktails. Wheyward Spirit is Certified Carbon Neutral, a Good Food Award Winner, and has earned Gold and Double Gold Medals at leading international spirits competitions like NYWWSC and SFWSC.
Wheyward Wheyskey takes the award-winning flavor of Wheyward Spirit and lets it naturally blossom through sustainable aging in re-coopered oak barrels. Savor balanced and approachable notes of oaky vanilla, toffee, and warm spice on the rocks, or elevate your favorite cocktail with a bespoke twist as an aged spirit alternative.
WheywardSpirit and Wheyward Wheyskey are doing things differently for the right reasons, are proudly woman-operated, and are free from additives, flavorings,gluten, grain, and lactose.
Head to WheywardSpirit.com for more cocktail inspiration, to join the Herd, and to order bottles right to your door. You can also find Wheyward Spirit in retailers across California, including Whole Foods Market and Total Wine. Find a location nearest you here.