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Review

Williams Sloe 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 botanicals in their premium Williams Gin and Williams Seville Orange Gin (which some what originally, use apple cider to create the base spirit). However, the potato Vodka Gin whilst robust also has a sweetness which lends it self effectively to Sloe Gin. Williams first produced this in 2009 and has released it each year, as a specified vintage, but in limited amounts.

Production

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 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. This Gin is then infused with sloeberries and aged for a year in barrels before being filtered and bottled.

The dark red colored Gin is presented in a clear squat cylindrical bottle, with a large maroon colored label showing gold writing and a gold Union Jack (British) flag towards the bottom.

Category

Flavored Gin - Sloe.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

30% (60 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$ - $$$$$. 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 and be prepared to add another 60% for shipping.

Botanicals

Wild sloes picked from hedgerows in Herefordshire.

Although unconfirmed, we suspect the botanicals used in the base Gin are the same as used by their Williams Great British Extra Dry Gin namely: almonds, angelica, cardamom, cassia bark, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger, juniper berries and (uniquely) buds, lemon peel, liquorice and nutmeg.

Name

Named after the founder and CEO, William Chase and the key flavoured botanical sloe berries. Note: all their Gin is referred to as “Williams” and their Vodka is called “Chase”.

Tasting Notes

Unfortunately we have not tasted this yet, so are unable to provide any details. It will be interesting to see how the base comes through - which we suspect is similar if not the same as their Williams Great British Extra Dry. We can't wait to try this for several reasons: its has the highest level of alcohol in a Sloe Gin (60 proof) we have encountered; and Williams produces quality spirits and this is aged longer than any other Sloe Gin we have encountered i.e. 1 year!

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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