It’s National Farmer’s Day! Farmers mean a lot to us here at Black Button. After all, no farms means no bourbon. While farms and distilleries work together in many ways, we found that spent grain – a big byproduct of our distilling processes – could fulfill needs at our local farms.
We’ve been committed to supporting our local farmers since we first started crafting spirits back in 2012. We’re also committed to sustainability. It’s actually one of our core values. That’s why we give all of our spent grain back to local farmers to use as feed for their cattle.
So, you might be thinking what is spent grain? Essentially – it’s oatmeal. Yup, you read that right. Now spent grain isn’t exactly your delicious bowl of Quaker Oats, but for cows and livestock, it’s very close!
“Arguably one of the oldest by-products ever fed to livestock, spent grain, simply put, is what is left after the malting process has fermented the sugars and carbohydrates out of the grain to make beer [or spirits]. The remaining product is similar in consistency to a warm bowl of oatmeal, and it is loved by cattle” (Farm and Ranch Guide).
With a large portfolio of spirits and distribution across 14 states, you can imagine how much spent grain we have left over after each production cycle. Rather than be wasteful by throwing it away, we donate our spent grain back to the local farmers that allow us to make the Black Button spirits you know and love – like our Four Grain Bourbon and Bourbon Cream.
Yes, spent grain is completely safe! Cattle are not able to get drunk or even tipsy by the spent grain – so don’t go getting ideas of some easy cow tipping. It’s simply nutrient rich feed that fosters healthy cows!
“One of the most popular uses for spent grain is livestock feed. Because it’s protein and mineral-rich, high-fat, and typically minimal in fiber (depending on the source), spent grains make for an excellent secondary or supplemental feed for hogs, sheep, cattle, poultry, and even fish,” (Moonshine University). “Many distillers establish partnerships with businesses and farmers in their communities to get their spent grains put it back into the local food supply.”
Spent grain makes happy spirit drinkers and happy animals.
As part of our commitment to supporting local, Black Button became the first licensed farm distillery in the New York State Grown & Certified Program. This guarantees our spirits are made from local and environmentally responsible ingredients. In fact, over 90% of the ingredients are grown or produced within the state – including 100% of the grain, sourced from Edgewood Farms, just south of Conesus Lake in the Finger Lakes Region.
We are committed to our local family farms because we believe in the important part they play in the local economy. We also believe in the genuine quality of New York-grown ingredients. They are the foundation of the quality of Black Button’s fine small-batch craft spirits. We strongly believe that great bourbon is not just made, but grown. And high-quality natural grown ingredients are paramount to making great bourbon whiskey. Sadly, New York State loses a family farm every three days. These farms are the roots of our American culture: they produce the food we eat, the milk we drink, and in turn, the air we breathe. Without farms, our local economy, and indeed ourselves, would be broken. For that reason, we continue to grow our partnerships with local farms.
Raise a toast to farmers this week. Supporting us in turns supports them! Enjoy a bottle of our spirits, and let’s cheers to quality grain and sustainable practices.