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HEREFORDSHIRE

5 min read, food & drink, friends of sawday's

Turning surplus potatoes into award-winning spirits: the story of Chase Distilleries

3rd March 2015
Turning surplus potatoes into award-winning spirits: the story of Chase Distilleries
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We caught up with James Chase of Chase Distilleries and The Verzon Hotel to discover the pioneering spirit behind great spirits…

 

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Where did the inspiration for Chase Distilleries come from?
I was travelling around New York in 2007 and saw the rise of craft distilleries, yet nothing was happening here in the UK. On returning back to our business at the time, Tyrrells Crisps, I found we had a huge surplus of smaller potatoes, too small to turn into crisps and at the time were just fed to the cows.

 

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We built the distillery in 2007, and were crowned the world’s best tasting vodka in 2010. Gins, liqueurs and soon whisky too have followed suit. In fact, the brand is doing so well that we’re now selling our vodka to Russians – coal to Newcastle you might say. While we distill a range of products, everything in our business leads back to vodka and since selling the Tyrrell business we are 100% focused on spirits.

 

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What makes your spirits different?
Our farm is based in Herefordshire, a region that boasts some of the richest farmland in the world. It’s here that we grow King Edward and Lady Claire potatoes for the distillery, as well as cider apples for our Naked Chase Apple Vodka and Williams Gin.

Having the distillery located on the farm allows us to keep a watchful eye over how our potatoes and apples move from field to bottle. It’s this single-estate approach that makes us different – something you can taste in our award-winning vodka.

Very small volumes are produced: 16 tonnes of potatoes makes only 1,000 litres of alcohol, which after 40 hours can be disheartening, but it is testament to the quality of our vodka– a supreme quality over all of the other mass produced vodka. Most gins on the market buy in what’s called a neutral grain spirit and simply re-distill, which can be sourced in the market for around 50 pence a litre. Our base spirit costs around £4 a litre to produce, so the cider is a great way of showing off the pedigree of our gin.

 

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Where do you get ideas for new flavours?
We try to preserve quintessential British flavours; things like Seville orange marmalade or rhubarb vodka, which we hope will evoke lost memories and tastes. They are all distilled in season but can be enjoyed all year round.

What are your bestsellers from the range (and your personal favourite)?
Our Single-Estate Potato vodka is still the best selling spirit and is of course my personal favourite, closely followed by the Elegant Gin!

What would you have been in another life?
Over the years I have had a growing appreciation for good wine, understanding all the different elements that go into its production affecting quality are fascinating. So I suppose a wine maker, but that’s not too far off from what I’m doing already….

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Feeling fruity? Try the Chase distillery cocktail of the month:

THE CAPTAIN 

The story: Our brilliant barman, Harry, is going off to be a captain of a yacht and sail around the world. We are going to miss him terribly, so he left us this recipe to make sure we will never forget him!

60ml Chase Elegant Gin

10ml Chase Elderflower Liqueur

25ml Fresh lime juice

10ml Gomme (Sugar syrup)

Shake hard, with loads of ice and double strain into a cold Martini glass.

 

Have the master cocktail makers mix it for you and take a sneak peek tour around the distillery at The Verzon Hotel

Stylish rooms, attractive prices, an informal vibe and some lovely local food make this a great base for the Malvern Hills.

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