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Distillery in central Wisconsin to use byproducts from making cheese


A craft distillery is slated to open in spring of 2023 across from Mullins Cheese in Knowlton near Mosinee.

Knowlton House Distillery will create whey-based spirits and offer craft cocktails, distillery tours, classes and food.

The distillery’s flagship product line, called TenHead, includes vodka and gin crafted from milk sugar (whey), a byproduct of making cheese. The distillery will also be distilling a line of whiskies.

The food menu will be roughly 15 items including house-smoked meats and all made-from-scratch dressings/sauces. Mullins Cheese will be incorporated into many of the spirits into many of the recipes.

Knowlton House Distillery is owned by Luke and Heather Mullins and the distillery is a marriage of their respective professions and passions.

Luke is a fourth generation cheesemaker and comes from a long line of dairy farmers. Heather, educated in distilling with a master’s degree in brewing science, has worked as a product development scientist aiding other distilleries and breweries.

“We’re not the first to distill spirits from milk sugar," said Heather Mullins, co-founder and head distiller, in a press release. "There are a handful of distilleries that do it worldwide. But it just feels right that we distill from milk in Wisconsin. We’re confident that nobody is more committed to showcasing these spirits at their best. After all, dairy isn’t just the pride of our state, it’s the pride of our family."

While the concept of distilling vodka and gin from whey may seem novel, Heather points out that it’s a concept dating back nearly a thousand years and produces traditional tasting spirits.

“Just like potato vodka doesn’t taste like potatoes, milk vodka doesn’t taste like milk. It’s still a very traditional vodka. However, it has a smoother, more velvety texture due to its source," she said.

Construction on the distillery started in September with an anticipated opening of spring 2023.

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