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When there's a will, there's a whey

In an endeavour to make use of a byproduct of his family’s business, University of Tasmania alumnus Ryan Hartshorn, 33, created a sheep’s whey vodka.

The Bachelor of Business graduate’s favourite subject at university was entrepreneurship – so when it came time to branch out from the family business, Grandvewe Cheese, Ryan knew that starting his own enterprise was the way to go.

I was trying to think about how I could develop as a person and do something I enjoy doing – so instead of quitting [the family business] I decided to create a business that complemented it.

After buying a copper still on eBay and honing his skills as a distiller for a year, he was inspired to create a vodka from sheep’s whey when he saw that an Irish distillery had made the spirit from cow’s whey. However, the Irish distillers refused to share their methods with Ryan, so he was forced to devise his own.

We have a science lab that does cheese testing in Victoria which I worked with to come up with the process - it was a very difficult thing to figure out.

The resultant Sheep’s Whey Vodka has proved popular in the highly competitive vodka market, and garnered a number of major awards this year, including Best Australian Vodka at the World Vodka Awards in London and Beverage of the Year at the Australian Food and Beverage Industry Awards.

His business was recognised last year with a Bright Star (Innovation) Award by Destination Southern Tasmania, and he was recently named Young Innovator of the Year at the 2017 Innovative Tasmania Awards.

By Gilda Sorella and Peter Cochrane.

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