Tasting Note- KUMIS- Fermented Mare’s Milk

Mmmmm- horses, tasty!

Note: some of the horses in the picture are stallions, and not to be milked ; )



Before writing this post I feel I should lay my cards on the table; I absolutely detest milk. I’m lactose intolerant, so I’ve never drank a glass of cow’s milk in my life. As a nipper I was force fed soya and goats milk, all in my own best interests of course, and now as a result I would rather lick the…… of a….. than drink a glass of milk. Its a drink for baby cows for fecks sake, why do grown men and women need to be drinking it?

That said, the thing about travel that I love the most is trying local foods and drinks. So when I was offered a frothy glass of mare’s milk while thawing out in Kyrgyzstan two weeks ago, it was with mixed feelings that I accepted.

Fermented mare’s milk is pretty important to the peoples of central Asia with roots in a nomadic horse culture and is found in Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

One of the girls who gave me the Kumis, explained the brewing process:

  1. The fresh horse milk is put into a wide plastic basin
  2. Bread is added to provide the yeasts for fermentation
  3. Sugar is added to boost the alcohol content
  4. The milk is stirred regularly for a couple of days
  5. Mixture is strained through muslin

The result is a frothy drink of 2-3% alc that needs to be chilled and consumed within a few days of fermentation.

How does it taste? I wrote the following note, in the WSET systematic style, in my journal

Details:Kumis, Kyrgyzstan, Homebrew, Horse, price unknown.

Appearance: White, Opaque Intensity, Frothy, No Visible Legs(tasted in chipped mug)

Nose: Clean, Simple, Medium Intensity, Youthful. Yeast, Rotting Apples, Sourdough Bread, Salami

Palate: Off Dry, Medium + Acidity, No Tannin evident, Low Alcohol Level, Medium to Full Body, Frothy Textured and Faint Petialance, long unharmonious finish of cooking apples, salami and sourdough

Conclusions: ????????????

I got a little kick out of sitting at 2,500m in the Kyrgyz mountains, cross legged in a caravan, wearing the same cycling shorts for four days straight and using skills I’d learned in Dublin and Melbourne to taste a mug of Mare’s Milk handed to me by an old woman with bridgework that Goldie would have been envious of.

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4 thoughts on “Tasting Note- KUMIS- Fermented Mare’s Milk

  1. As you know may be, Ireland will not go to South Africa. I talk about the world cup soccer, and the last competition between EIRE and FRANCE (not Air France!). The French were very embarrassed for sure. “You” played like lions. But France stole the win in extra time at the Stade de France in Paris. We are not proud and we are very sorry for you !
    Well, it is the occasion for me to remember your short stay in Aujardière (France) close to Saint Colomban town, with Eric Chevalier and his good wines, me, my daughter Amandine and Pierre Dupont, one year ago!!!
    Congratulation to your heroic revolution cycle. Your website is lovely and your pictures and video are gorgeous! Keep going safely Simon and Fearghal.
    Bicyclettement vôtre. Allez les verts!
    Didier Giraudeau

  2. Hi friend,
    i began to miss the travel… just after one month. Sleep in tent, cook the food, feel the cold & hot, … We preview to ride with you for 2 days when you will arrive near to us. but…you have at least 4 monthes to arrive in the capital of the “gratin dauphinois”… good luck i am waiting for you

  3. Bring us back the details of a few producers for Bubble Brothers and we’ll see. Sounds like it’d go well with pancakes and would be a true recession buster.Hmmm…

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