Vodka and Ice Cream

by By Megan Shroy

Though it sounds like an unlikely pair, the guys of Middle West Spirits are teaming up with Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in more ways than one. 

Photo by Catherine Murray

Photo by Catherine Murray

Jeni has been a mentor to Middle West since the beginning, helping them get plugged into the vertical integration movement. In short, vertical integration is the process of sourcing locally from farmers and then building up those farmers to become true partners of the business.

For example, Jeni has a special relationship with Snowville Creamery, a small, family-owned dairy farm owned by Warren Taylor in Meigs County, Ohio. The partnership they’ve formed keeps both companies in business—Snowville always having leftover cream from their milk operation and Jeni buying up all that extra cream, and then some. 

In the same way, Brady and Ryan want to find local farmers and form similar partnerships.

Photo by Catherine Murray

Photo by Catherine Murray

“We can absolutely affect a local farmer with the business we’re running,” said Lang. “Jeni’s operation has inspired us to be an agricultural business, and this is a responsible way of manufacturing.” 

Jeni’s Ice Cream and Middle West Spirits are not the only companies heading in this direction.

“We’ve talked to Brothers Drake Meadery about this same concept; they are already working with local beekeepers to get their honey. It’s a tight-knit community, everyone’s out to help each other,” said Lang.

Brady and Ryan are already working with farmers to purchase free-trade products. It’s now about finding the right farmers and mills in the community that want to jump on board.

Meanwhile, Jeni and the guys at Middle West have also been partnering up in another way—they recently released a new flavor of ice cream: Oakvale Young Gouda with OYO Vodka-Plumped Cranberries. 

Artisan ice cream, craft spirits and buying local ... what could be better?