Williams Chase Distillery Ltd., Rosemaund Farm, Hereford, Herefordshire, England, UK.
Will Chase is the 5th generation
of a farming family in Herefordshire and in the 1990’s had been producing
potatoes for around 20 years. However, the farming business had suffered
terribly with large grocery chain stores driving down prices plus BSE and Foot
& Mouth destroying livestock (and any profit) and they went bankrupt, losing
their 30-acre farm. The tale however does not stop here, this was only the
beginning…a true rags to riches story.
To get him out of this distress Will became a potato trader, sourcing from around the country and selling them in bulk to retailers – managing to earn a living and buying back 20-acres of land. In 2002 they used their farm grown organic potatoes (King Edward’s and Lady Claire’s) to produce gourmet chips (called Tyrrell’s, named after Tyrrells Court the farm he grew up on). At the end of their first year they had achieved a turnover of around $750,000 dollars. In 2007 the business won an Entrepreneurial award and gained a $7.5 Million interest free loan, which was promptly used to buy the neighboring 400-acre Rosemaund Farm and start a Distillery. In 2008 Will sold 75% of Tyrrell’s (retaining the farms) for…wait for it…$60 Million!
Back in 2003 whilst Will was on vacation he had talked with an American who had a bottle of potato vodka. Then in 2004 whilst in the USA looking for chip packing equipment, Will visited a distillery producing spirits from potatoes, which sparked the ideas for recreating this back home. Perhaps the hardest part was sourcing the best distilling equipment and it took until June 2008 (just before the selling of Tyrrell’s) for their first batch of Chase Vodka to be produced. This was the first ever potato Vodka to be produced in England and was carried out with the support of Jamie Baxter, now working at City of London Distillery.
Today Chase Distillery has grown to include a portfolio of other Vodka, Gin and Liqueurs. This, along with the farm, includes the support of the 6th generation of the family, his two sons Harry and James. Producing around 10,000 bottles per week they are now adding another still to provide for the ever-increasing export market – watch out USA, here they come.
The original idea was to use their potato vodka but this spirit base proved too overpowering for the floral aspects of the botanicals in their premium Williams Gin (which some what original, uses apple cider to create the base spirit). However, in mid 2012 they released this version of Gin containing botanicals robust enough to use their potato vodka base. The initial release was to the European Spanish market and in the later part of 2012, to the UK market.
The Gin is made from a potato-based spirit.
The potatoes are organically grown on the farm and are broken up (mashed) and
with added yeast, left for about a week to ferment into a potato wine. This is
distilled in their bespoke copper pot still in batches. It is distilled further
in their huge 70 feet tall rectifying column with 42 bubble plates (apparently
the tallest in Europe), to create the potato Vodka base spirit, a process
taking about two weeks.
The Gin is finally made in their 250-liter Carter head style still, affectionately known as “Ginny”. An equal mix of the potato Vodka base spirit and purified natural well water (from the farm) is distilled for a final time with the botanicals being vapor infused during this process.
The Gin is presented in an emerald green colored squat cylindrical bottle. The bottle is screen-printed with the black colored image of a juniper bush (with berries) and towards the bottom it has a triangular Union Jack (British) flag.
Distilled Dry Gin.
40% (80 Proof).
$$$$. Not available in the USA yet, but its
coming, perhaps in the next 12 – 18 months. In the meantime, try Master of Malt
in the UK but be prepared to add another 70% for shipping.
The 12 botanicals used include: almonds, angelica,
cardamom, cassia bark, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger, juniper
berries and (uniquely) buds, lemon peel, liquorice and nutmeg.
Named after the founder and CEO, William
Chase. Note: all their Gin is referred to as “Williams” and their Vodka is
called “Chase”. The Great British comes from the country of origin and the Extra Dry describing the taste.
On the palate is strong juniper with citrus
(lemon) and light spicy (cinnamon & nutmeg) notes. Strangely enough there
are also some faint floral aspects. On the palate this full-bodied spirit has a
slight sweetness (liquorice) and very dry robust juniper with citrus. This
leads into spicy notes (cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg), which develop further
in the close. The finish maintains the dry juniper and citrus and an
increasingly warm spiciness. With little doubt this is a well-built and
Whilst this may be drunk neat it has been created according to the producers with Gin & Tonic and a Sweet Martini specifically in mind. In a G&T the robust juniper clearly comes through, with a large helping of spices to great effect, resulting in a well-balanced drink that all Gin lovers should (one hopes) enjoy tremendously. This has easily become a strongly preferred choice of Gin for us to mix with Tonic. The pricing whilst on the higher side is geared towards more of an everyday Gin and if your budget permits this, you will be, we believe highly rewarded. It puts the traditional and familiar mass-produced Gins (e.g. Beefeater, Gordon’s) in the shade (all be it they are at a more affordable price point).
In a Martini the increased degree of juniper dryness of this Gin works well, making the standard Martini, more like a Dry Martini. The higher level of spiciness comes through making this a little unusual compared with most Gins but still, to our palates, very nice and very enjoyable. In a Sweet Martini the spiciness and the dryness of the Gin is a very good match with the herbal sweetness of the Sweet Vermouth, making a balanced drink to rival a Sloe Gin for a winter’s day.
Over all this is a great Gin with strong juniper dryness and a different spicy taste profile that we can thoroughly recommend. Our congratulations to William Chase Distillery in producing yet another fantastic quality spirit to their portfolio.
Master Medal, Gin Masters, 2015.