From 1992 to 1995, Jennifer Randall-Collins scored buckets as a starter on the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team.
Now her business is pints.
The Kentucky native has turned an old family recipe for spiked custard into Proof alcoholic ice cream — eight flavors of real ice cream incorporating moonshine, rum and (of course) top-shelf Kentucky bourbon.
“It’s an old Kentucky recipe that’s been passed around for generations,” said Randall-Collins, speaking from her and partner Dirk Brown’s Liquorem Holdings company in the Midlands Tech Business Accelerator in northeast Columbia.
But you can’t just pour a bottle of booze in the churn and expect to get boozy ice cream, she said.
“It doesn’t work that way,” she said. “It would separate and be nasty. It would all settle to the bottom of the pint, whereas with our product it’s consistent from the first spoonful to the last spoonful.”
Proof uses a proprietary process for creating the spiked custard base. And while there are many liquor-flavored or low alcohol level ice creams in the market, Proof is one of only two brands in the nation to use 80-proof liquor to raise the alcohol by volume rating, or ABV, she said.
In the case of Proof, the ABV is 7 percent, which translates to 14 proof — about the same as a high gravity craft beer, Randall-Collins said.
Her path to alcoholic ice cream CEO was a twisty one.
When she graduated with a bachelors degree in business in 1995, she moved back to the Bluegrass State, got married, “had a couple of beautiful children,” started a political consulting business and eventually ran across the alcoholic custard recipe.
In 2014, Randall-Collins entered into a partnership with the Kentucky family that had the recipe, secured the intellectual property rights for the process and got the company up and running.
In 2015, she moved to South Carolina because of regulatory benefits for the product here,
(a liquor-bakery license provision, long story) partnered with Brown — a “serial entrepreneur” who is faculty director at the McNair Institute at USC’s Darla Moore Business School— and set up shop in the accelerator.
“I just jumped in my (ice cream) truck and took samples to restaurants all over South Carolina and got feedback from customers and folks in the back of the house (employees),“ she said.
Last year, Randall-Collins and Brown bought out their Kentucky partners, and today they distribute to 70 locations all over South Carolina and 20 locations in the Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte areas of North Carolina.
“My employees and I — mostly me when we were just getting off the ground — would spend 17 hours in that truck traveling across South Carolina. To think of the sacrifices we made to get this up and running is just mind blowing.”
So is she still driving the truck?
“I am not,” she said, laughing, “At least not every day.”