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 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 version of Gin in late 2013 (2012 vintage) and plans to release it each year, but in limited amounts.
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 eight months in barrels, with the mulberries added at this stage and aged for a further 2 months, 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.
Flavored Gin – Sloe & Mulberry.
30% (60 Proof).
$$$$$ - $$$$$$. Not available in the USA.
Try Master of Malt in the UK and be prepared to add another 50% for shipping.
Wild sloes picked from hedgerows in
Herefordshire and supplied mulberrys. The slow growing Mulberry tree was a popular sight
in Victorian and Georgian England, with its spring flowers and raspberry like
fruit in the fall. Unfortunately these trees have fallen out of favor with
numbers reducing for numerous possible reasons - low fruit yields, prone to disease,
the branches grow in a meandering prone style (and thus easily break off when
older and heavier) and they are messy (the fruits have a strongly staining
purple juice) – resulting in municipal authorities removing and replacing them
with alternative species of trees. Today there a just a small number remaining
but those who know them seek out the fruit for home made delights of conserves,
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.
Named after the founder and CEO, William
Chase and the key flavored botanicals sloe berries and mulberries. Note: all
their Gin is referred to as “Williams” and their Vodka is called “Chase”.
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. According to Williams the Gin has a red fruit
nose and palate nose with almond notes plus has a tart and crisp finish.