Council to whey in on distillery
Fancy a sip of Harvey-produced vodka or orange-flavoured liqueur?
Tonight the Harvey Shire Council will vote on a proposal by Harvey Cheese owners Robert and Penny St Duke to develop a distillery at their Wokalup farm.
The proposal would see the award-winning fromager use a whey by-product from cheese making to create vodka and gin.
A limoncello-style tipple and orange-flavoured liqueur would also be produced on site under the proposal, using locally grown citrus.
The plans were discussed at a development services committee meeting last week and will now go before the council.
Mr St Duke told the council the distillery would boost tourism and create additional employment opportunities in the area.
He also said it would reduce waste because the whey by-product from the cheese he made on site would be fermented to create the liqueurs.
“Other companies in America and Ireland are doing this, but this will be the first of its kind in WA,” he said.
“And in working with other local businesses and producers, it’s a win-win.”
Mr St Duke said the volatile dairy market and inability to compete against major corporations prompted him to find ways to branch out.
“I had to find another way to value-add in order to keep my business alive,” he said.
Mr St Duke believes the move would make his business more sustainable and he was ready to start almost immediately once the council gave the final approvals.
“I think this is something unique that people will want to see,” he said. “I’ve got everything I need to get started.”
He would begin by creating whey vodka and then move towards sourcing locally-grown botanicals to create a gin unique to the region, all under the brand “St Duke”.
Harvey shire president Tania Jackson said the distillery and liqueur were great ideas.
“It would have a real Harvey flavour,” she said.
“Harvey Cheese is an iconic name in our region, their cheese has become synonymous with innovation and creativity. Robert and Penny have shown themselves to be creative with their cheeses and I can imagine their distillery would have an inventive and exciting level of production as well.”
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