Yesterday's Dairy Junk May Be Today's Distillery Gold
Earlier this week, the Georgia Milk Producers office got an interesting phone call. Brandon Macias, a co-founder of a distillery in Atlanta, wanted to know where he could find some old, flat-top milk tanks. Brandon and his partners started Horyzon Spirits in 2020. Originally from South Carolina, Brandon and the Horyzon team were inspired by their home state’s heritage of rice production to make American rice whiskey.
Dating back to 1685, rice was a major cash crop in the Southeast. Along coastal South Carolina and Georgia, from Georgetown to Brunswick to be exact, rice fields dotted the landscape of the coast plain. Rice production faded from Georgia quickly in the 1800s as cotton and other commodities grew in demand. Now the largest producer of rice in America is Arkansas. Horyzon sources its grain from Arkansas and South Carolina and distills its rice whiskey in Atlanta.
So, what does this have to do with milk tanks and dairy farms? Well, the older flat-top milk tank that many farms removed from their parlors years ago make for the perfect container for mash. Distillers like Brandon use 500-750 gallon tanks with large openings at the top to convert steamed rice starch into sugar. They add koji, an ingredient used in the production of Japanese sake, to aid in the fermentation process. As many dairy farmers know all too well, the cost of equipment and supply-chain disruptions have made it difficult to purchase new machinery and parts. The same is true of the distilling business. Horyzon is looking to refurbish old milk tanks in order to expand their processing line in Atlanta.
If your farm pulled out an old flat-top milk tank and haven’t found a new home or new use for it in all these years, shoot Brandon Macias an email at email@example.com. Yesterday’s junk pile at the dairy may be gold for today’s distillery.