A Little History
Chase Distillery is a family-owned, British field to bottle distillery, creating luxury spirits from their farm in Herefordshire.
William Chase grew up in Herefordshire and has been farming potatoes for 20 years, mostly supplying to supermarkets as a commodity. Their farm boasts some of the richest farmland in the world, and they grow King Edward, Lady Claire and Lady Rosetta Potatoes. With the continual price pressure from the supermarkets, he realised that a change in direction is required. He wanted to remain in farming and produce a great-tasting product that could be made from potatoes.
He was hit one day with the eureka moment to turn potatoes into chips and had spent 2002 travelling the world to source the equipment and recipe to make the potato chips and by summer that year, “Tyrrells” was born.
As Tyrrells grew, he was searching for the next step and stumbled upon a small distillery making potato vodka in the USA and decided to explore this idea. He researched the market and found it to be full of marketing stories or large corporate companies and thought there would be a market to make quality products and sell them with provenance and pedigree.
He sourced for a traditional type of still to make the vodka base, but his research told him that to get the best quality, without filtering out all the character, he’ll need a bespoke rectifying column. It was hard work, but eventually, he found a great family firm with over 100 years of experience to supply them one.
From the idea in 2004, it took them until April fool’s day 2008 to harvest the first of the potatoes and make the first batch of vodka in Jun 2008. Upon tasting the very first drop from the column before filtering, he was so enamored and proud of it that he decided to call it Chase Vodka. And so, the Chase Distillery was born. The business was set up to challenge the status quo in the white spirits industry. If people are interested in the terroir for their wine or the barrel aging for their whisky, then why shouldn’t they be interested in how their white spirits have been crafted?
The business has become a family affair; with Will’s older sons Harry and James working within the business. Harry manages the Chase Farm and farms 300 acres of potatoes which are grown on a 5-year crop rotation and James works as the Global Brand Ambassador, educating customers and consumers about their field to bottle philosophy.
The Field to Bottle Process
The Chase spirits are entirely made from scratch, the potatoes and apples grown on the farms are distilled into their range of spirits. The quality of the products isn’t by chance, it takes meticulous dedication, craftsmanship and passion from the team. This approach, entirely from field to bottle, really makes them different and it is something you can taste in their spirits.
They start off by peeling the potatoes (and the cattle get the peelings!) and smashing them into pulp before transferring into the mash vessel. The potatoes are then heated using steam and some enzymes are added to help break down the potato starch into sugars. The potatoes are then cooled to exactly 27 degrees before the special distillers yeast is pumped into all the fermentation tank.
The mash is left to ferment between 36 to 48 hours at a constant temperature, and the fermented potato mash is about 9% ABV. After this, the alcohol is separated from the mash, and the remaining low wines spirit is at around 86% ABV. The spent mash is then used as field fertilizer on the farm to feed the herd of Hereford Cattle.
The spirit is then run through the stars of the show, Fat Betty and Maximus, the copper pot still and rectification column with 48 bubble plates. At this point, the spirit has reached the dizzying heights of 96% ABV and is well on its way to becoming Chase vodka. After distillation, extracting the heart of the spirit, the distillers temper it down with water drawn from a source at the heart of the farm. They are a stone's throw away from the Malvern Hills – the home of the Queen’s favourite water. Once it has reached a much more drinkable 40% ABV, the spirits are bottled onsite. The entire process from field to bottle takes up to two weeks.
Unlike most distilleries, the gins are made from scratch, rather than buying in readymade neutral grain spirit. In their bespoke copper, carter head style gin still, Ginny, botanicals are added both into the belly of the still and vapour infused through the carter head chamber, giving different complexities to the gin. Often distilleries use botanicals to mask the base spirit in their gin, whereas Chase Distillery uses their botanicals to draw out the best aspects and the botanicals complement the mineral earthiness found in their spirit.
Discover the Chase Distillery in this short 360° distillery tour: