Founded in 2004 by William Chase on his family farm in Herefordshire, the Chase distillery is one of the original leading lights in the UK craft distilling movement.
The roots of the Chase distillery can be found quite literally in its award winning potatoes. Back at the turn of the millennium, William was fed up with selling his potatoes to the supermarkets and so, after a fact finding trip around the world to source equipment and uncover the best recipes, he started making his own brand of crisps, named Tyrell’s Crisps. The business was a great success and William found himself yearning for a new challenge. A chance visit to a micro-distillery on trip to America in 2004 inspired him to create a craft vodka from the potatoes grown on his farm and Chase distillery was born.
Back in 2004 obtaining a distillation licence for a small distillery was extremely difficult, with a minimum required still size of 2300 litres! Not one to be deterred by even the most daunting tasks, William installed a copper pot still in a converted barn on his farm with a custom designed 70ft rectifying column, the tallest of its kind in the world. Using King Edward and Lady Claire potatoes grown on the farm, William and his team distill their spirit four times in the copper pot still and twice more in the rectifying column to create a 96% ABV spirit, which after cutting down to a bottling strength of 40% becomes Chase Vodka. First distilled in June 2008, William’s vodka was met with an enthusiastic reception and went on to be crowned best vodka in the world at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
William and his team then turned their minds to gin. The potato distillate didn’t quite work with they flavour profile that William wanted and so after much experimentation they found that they could create a crisp, citrus flavoured spirit using the cider apples from their farm’s orchard (which is so good they bottled it on its own as Chase Naked Vodka). Initially they distilled using their column rectifier but, after the relaxation of the licensing laws, they began to distill their apples in a smaller 400 litre copper pot still in a two shot distillation process.
This creation of their own base spirits sets them apart from the vast majority of gin distilleries which buy in a neutral base spirit which they then rectify. All of their gins are created from spirit distilled using apples or potatoes grown on their farm – William believes this ‘field to bottle’ approach sets Chase apart from other distilleries.
After the apple spirit has been created, it is distilled again using a small 250 litre carter head still (affectionately christened ‘Ginny’) with the botanicals stuffed into a pillow case where their flavours infuse into the spirit vapours passing through the carter head. For Williams Elegant Gin, they use 11 botanicals including juniper, coriander, angelica, liquorice, orris root, orange and lemon peel, hops, elderflower and fresh Bramley apples and after distillation cut the gin down to a robust bottling strength of 48% ABV using naturally pure water that runs underneath their orchards. The result is an elegant and crisp gin with a brilliant balance of juniper, citrus fruits and earthy spices.
One gin certainly wasn’t enough for the Chase family and so their next gin was created using their award winning potato distilled spirit. With Williams GB Extra Dry Gin, William was looking for different flavours that would complement the rich creamy texture of the spirit. Spices are prominent in the selection of botanicals, with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cloves and liquorice all making an appearance, together with coriander and lemon peel to add citrus notes and both juniper buds and berries to ensure a classic dry style. Cut down to a bottling strength of 40% ABV with spring water from the farm, Williams GB Extra Dry Gin feels altogether more autumnal, with notes of juniper and citrus complemented by hints of dark chocolate and rich spice.
The Chase distillery is renowned for the experimental and innovative approach to distilling (including their widely praised oak smoked vodka!). Inspired by a conservation project to protect the increasingly rare British mulberry, William marinaded mulberries with his Herefordshire hedgerow sloe berries for the final two months of the blending of the 2012 vintage sloe gin. Williams Sloe & Mulberry Gin is deliciously rich with flavours of figs, dates, black cherries, prunes and citrus zest. The team has also created the superb Williams Seville Orange Gin, distilled from their potato spirit with eight botanicals and infused with sweet Seville orange peel and, most recently, the vibrant and delicious Williams Pink Grapefruit Gin. A truly remarkable family distillery!