Grass-fed cows from five Cork farms are the secret to the success of a single batch cream liqueur, writes John Wilson.
Irish cream liqueur is not a new concept. Various people claim to have invented Bailey’s Irish Cream back in 1974, but whoever was responsible created one of the most popular drinks in the world. Since then, there have been many imitations, but surprisingly little innovation, other than adding alternative spirits. Five Farms is a luxury cream liqueur that is breaking the mould, with milk produced from five farms in South West Cork.
Five Farms is the brainchild of Johnny Harte, a veteran of the Irish drinks scene. “I first had the idea on a trip I made to the US some years ago,” he tells me. “I had a conversation with Mick Harris, president, McCormack Distilling Co. in Weston, Missouri, (‘a proud Irish-American Company’), about how the Irish Cream liqueur category had never really developed.” Johnny went away and thought about it and five years ago, the duo formed a partnership.
“It always has and always will only ever come from grass-fed cows on five farms in a special part of South West Cork. There is a unique microclimate there, where the Atlantic Gulf Stream comes in along a corridor of land that is warmer, where the grass grows sooner and for longer. What people want is a genuine product of provenance, one that you could believe – so every claim has to be honest and true.“ Everything bar the vanilla (they use genuine Madagascar vanilla extract) comes from the county of Cork; the cream, the milk, the neutral spirit and the whiskey. It is made in the Silver Pale ice cream facility in Fermoy.
“It went to market in 2017. We sent two containers to the US, and I went out in January thinking I would have to do a lot of difficult selling but discovered that it had sold out over Christmas. One shop told me they had to raffle off the last few bottles so great was the demand. We knew then we were onto something; we are now in our third year, and so far, the focus has been on the US and Ireland. Both have been extremely successful. I am so delighted with the reaction in Ireland. I never ever thought it would be as popular, I am blown away. You hope people will embrace it – I have never seen a reaction like it and we are only beginning.”
The name Five Farms came about partly by chance. The name they originally chose looked like it might run into patent problems down the line. “The name sort of made itself. I kept referring to it as five farms on the phone when I was talking to people,” Johnny explains, “Once we knew there were five farms that could guarantee consistent supply, we decided to go with that.”
The farms gave further inspiration, with the eye catching flip top bottle designed to resemble a traditional milk churn. “The whole idea is of a ritual; when you sit down, part of it is the top popping like the cork on a bottle of wine.”
A sweet drink, that’s won several awards, Five Farms is warming, rich, creamy and smooth, coating the palate with caramel and vanilla. Drink it cold, at room temperature, or fix yourself a cocktail to toast this great new Irish success story. The Five Farms Espresso Martini, with vodka and coffee, sounds like an excellent place to start.
Five Farms is available for around €35 from specialist off-licences and SuperValu.