The Chase Distillery in Herefordshire would be no place for little Charlie Bucket, but spirit aficionados are sure to love a magical mystery tour around the grounds. Who knows, you may even meet ‘Willy Wonka of spirits’, William Chase (and you don’t even need to find a golden ticket).
Plenty has been going on of late, with Chase having teamed up with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to create Earl Grey and Lemon Gin for Waitrose. It’s all-systems-go at the distillery, with production full steam ahead on the very appealing Chase Marmalade Vodka, as well as, of course, the original premium Chase vodka, voted World’s Best Vodka by the prestigious San Francisco Spirits Competition.
“Heston was wonderful to work with,” says Mr Chase. “We were happy to be a part of this project, making a distinctly British tipple to be sold exclusively in a distinctly British store chain.”
“My first thought with creating the marmalade vodka was that everyone likes a bit of marmalade in the morning. Marmalade is such a wonderful flavour, why wouldn’t you want to be able to drink it?” he continues. “But I don’t suggest you have it in the morning, of course. You can have your morning marmalade on your toast and your evening marmalade over a bit of ice.”
Chase has created a lovely range of fruity spirits, including the pretty, pink, limited edition Rhubarb Vodka and the Seville Orange Gin – made with cider apples grown on the family farm and distilled with sweet Seville orange peel. Chase offers its own brand of gin too – Williams Gin, made by pressing its organically grown cider apples, fermenting them into cider, and then distilling that into vodka and redistilling it into gin infused with juniper, coriander, angelica, liquorice, orrice, orange, lemon, hops, elderflower and Bramley apple. The Summer Fruit Cup is a light and refreshing gin blended with 17 carefully selected botanicals and gently infused with Herefordshire elderflowers and ripe summer berries. We can’t forget their fresh fruit liqueurs either, which come in rhubarb, elderflower, blackcurrant and raspberry.
“You could make an entire liquid fruit salad from our products,” Chase jokes. He believes the key to his success has been an enthusiasm for trying new things and taking chances. “It’s always a bit of a gamble trying new things with spirits because people tend to know what they like” he says.
While on the tour, you might choose to indulge in a Naked Chase – a vodka made from the Chase farm’s organically grown cider apples and so named because there’s absolutely nothing added to it. You’ll also see where they mash, ferment, strip, distil and hand bottle spirits using only traditional methods, and you’ll have the opportunity to see where all the raw materials are grown before sampling the finished products. The Master Distiller’s Tour offers a more in-depth insight into the production and allows you to spend half a day at the distillery experimenting and producing your very own gin using a range of over 200 botanicals.