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Review

Williams
Single Botanical Gin

Distillery

Williams Chase Distillery Ltd., Rosemaund Farm, Hereford, Herefordshire, England, UK.

Website

Chase Distillery.

History

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 Gin botanicals. Therefore more experimentation was required before the first Williams Gin could be produced in 2009. This Single Botanical Gin was launched in early 2013 and was limited to an initial run of 1,000 bottles. It is now produced in 1,000 bottle batches as a semi-regular part of the Williams Chase range of products.

Production

The Gin is unusually made from an apple-based spirit. The cider apples are organically grown on the farm and are pressed before being left for about a week to naturally ferment into cider. The cider is then distilled in their bespoke copper pot still and batch distilled 4 times. It is then distilled another 2 times in their huge 70 feet tall rectifying column with 42 bubble plates (apparently the tallest in Europe), to create their apple Vodka base spirit, a process taking about two weeks.

The Gin is finally made during a 7th and final distillation using an equal mix of the apple Vodka base spirit and purified natural well water (from the farm). The one and only botanical, juniper, is added to this and raises the question: Is this a Single Botanical Gin or a Juniper flavored Vodka?  

The Gin is presented in a tall clear cylindrical bottle, which is slightly “pinched” in the middle (by about half an inch) to give the impression of being taller. The simple white label has blue colored text stating “Williams Chase Single Botanical Gin” and has a Union Jack (British) flag on it. On the reverse, in reference to its possible dual identity, is another simple white label but this time it reads “Chase Juniper Vodka”.

Category

Distilled Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$ - $$$$$$. Not available in the USA and we have been unable to identify a suitable supplier able to ship to the USA. It is available from Williams Chase direct but only for shipping within the UK.

Botanicals

This uses juniper berries as the only (single) botanical used. This has lead to the question: is this is a Gin or is it a juniper flavored Vodka? – hence the dual identity labeling on the bottle.

Name

Named after the founder and CEO, William Chase and the single botanical used to make it. Note: all their Gin is referred to as “Williams” and their Vodka is called “Chase”.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is clear piney juniper with a faint hint of lemon. On the palate this viscous and faintly sweet spirit has strong woody pine (juniper) with developing faint herbal, lemon and pepper notes. This continues on the close with a lingering dry and peppery warm finish. A bright and refreshing Gin with faint aspects of complexity.

This shows a surprising level of complexity given it contains just one botanical and this is shown best when drunk neat. In a Gin and Tonic the piney juniper is prevalent (especially in a 2:1 ratio) but there are other notes in the background including lemon – adding a citrus garnish brings this out even further. The same is found in a Martini with the juniper the central theme but there are warm peppery spice and citrus notes in the background too. We liked the Martini best because the subtle nuances of the Gin show in this cocktail more than any other mixed drink we tried, and like the G&T we found it benefits from a citrus garnish too. We also tried this in a Tom Collins and a Gimlet where the citrus in theses drinks mixes with this juniper forward Gin well but the spirits nuances are lost.

Overall, when compared with the experiment of single juniper botanical Gin from Master of Malt’s “Origin” series, this Williams Gin was a better favorite of ours and it is clear to us their apple spirit base provides this advantage. This is certainly a Martini Gin but losses its light notes of complexity in other Gin based mixed drinks.

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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