Our story

Let’s cut a long story short. We’re dairy people from the dairy state.
We craft spirits from milk sugar.


Every story has a beginning and ours takes us back to 1849, just a year after Wisconsin became a state. As immigrants flooded the area looking for new opportunity, the area’s first tavern, the original Knowlton House, opened its doors. Offering drinks, food and lodging – Knowlton House served as a popular roadhouse for those traveling through or settling in the area.

That same year, Irishman Patrick Mullins chased his American dream. He sold his Ten Head of cattle in Ireland to start a new life as a Wisconsin dairy farmer. Seven generations later, the Mullins are still proud members of the state’s dairy industry. Those original dairy farmers became cheesemakers, and now those cheesemakers have evolved again – all originally financed, in part, by that Ten Head of cattle. Our line of spirits, distilled from milk sugars, pays homage to that humble beginning.

The Spirit
of Evolution

When a cheesemaker marries a fermentation scientist, it’s destined to be delicious. The marriage of Luke and Heather Mullins was the perfect recipe to turn milk sugars, a byproduct of making cheese, into alcohol. While the Mullins continue their cheese making tradition, Heather, educated in distilling with a master’s degree in brewing science, has evolved those milk sugars into something more. Take a sip and you’ll agree – milk does so much more than just make cheese.

Prided in Taste

In Wisconsin, we pride ourselves on dairy and agriculture, but we don’t distill TenHead from milk sugars just because we can. We do it because it tastes good, really good. It’s the nuances in a spirit that make it special. Something unique that quality ingredients and a lot of passion leave behind. Pour yourself a drink. Let TenHead’s smooth, velvety texture elevate your cocktail to something more and raise your glass to say “cheers” to the Dairy State.

Knowlton Fact 1

For every one pound of cheese that is made, nine pounds of whey is created.  So feel good about yourself the next time you take a sip of TenHead.  It was made using the byproduct of making cheese.

Knowlton Fact 2

TenHead spirits are both lactose-free and gluten-free.  Even though we distill using milk sugars, that lactose is unable to come through the distillation process because it can’t vaporize like alcohol. Ah, the magic of distillation!

Knowlton Fact 3

We also make three kinds of whiskey.  Unlike our TenHead spirits, they are crafted using traditional grain bills.  We source our ingredients (corn, rye, barley) from local Wisconsin farms.  Before you get too excited, it’ll be a little wait.  They need to age properly.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I make a dining reservation?


Knowlton House does not accept reservations. However, we do offer call ahead seating. This allows you to add you name to the waitlist prior to arriving. Groups of 8 or more may experience extended wait times as our table layout is restrictive. When you arrive, please stop at the host stand to check-in.

Where can I purchase your spirits?


At this time, our spirits are only available for distribution in
Wisconsin — which probably means you should stock up if you’re visiting. For a full selection of spirits, visit our distillery in Knowlton, WI. Bottles can also be found at a variety of Wisconsin retailers or online.

Do you ship your spirits?


Due to state regulations, Knowlton House Distillery is unable to ship spirits directly to your home.  If you’re not already living in Wisconsin where you can pick up a bottle, you may need to make friends with a Wisconsinite.  Don’t worry, we’re friendly.

Is TenHead vodka and gin lactose-free?


Celebrate with TenHead – even if you’re lactose intolerant.  The fermentation and distillation process removes virtually all milk proteins and lactose, leaving behind only trace amounts.  At such low levels, TenHead spirits are considered safe for those who are dairy or lactose intolerant.  Individuals who have severe reactions such as anaphylaxes caused by milk proteins should still exercise caution as sensitivity can vary by individual.

Is TenHead vodka and gin gluten-free?


TenHead vodka and gin are made entirely from milk sugars which are naturally gluten-free.

Is your tour wheelchair accessible?


Of course.  The distillery tour is accessible for guests in wheelchairs.

What is the cancellation policy for tours and classes?


We understand that life happens.  If you need to cancel your tour or class, please contact us at least one week in advance for a full refund, less credit card fees.  Reservations canceled with less than one week’s notice will not be refunded or rescheduled.

Are pets allowed at the distillery?


Celebrate with your four-legged pal on our pet-friendly patio, open seasonally.  Pets are not allowed inside the facility.

Pet owners are responsible for their pet’s behavior.  Pets must remain leashed at all times.  Pets who are loud, aggressive or misbehaving will be asked to leave.

Service animals are welcome both inside and outside at Knowlton House Distillery.

How long do tours last?


Our Classic Tour & Tasting lasts 45 minutes.

When should I arrive for my tour?


Tours begin promptly at the designated time.  We recommend arriving 10-15 minutes before your scheduled tour to allow time to check-in and order a cocktail to enjoy while on the tour.

Should I tip my tour guide?


While tipping is not required, it is always appreciated by your tour guide.  If you had fun and learned something new, we encourage you to show them some love.

Do I need a reservation for a distillery tour?


While tour reservations are not required, they are recommended.  Tours are capped at 16 participants.

Private tours are available and must be scheduled in advance.  Private tours and tastings are available for $120 and includes up to 6 guests.  Additional guests can be included for $15/person. Contact us to learn more.

Can designated drivers enjoy the tour?


Yes.  Distillery tours are designed for everybody to enjoy.  Tour guests not partaking in spirits tasting can enjoy a house crafted non-alcoholic mocktail and a high-five for being responsible.

Still have questions?


Still have questions? Contact us and ask.  We’d love to hear from you.