In April, four of our hard-working team members from The Red Lion in Odiham, won a trip to visit the award-winning Chase Distillery in Herefordshire to enjoy a tour of their beautiful distillery and an overnight luxury stay.
The trip gave the group the opportunity to learn the extraordinary story behind this iconic, British brand and the intricate methods involved in the making of Chase’s world-class vodka and gins, which are served at The Red Lion and our other 9 pubs; it was also a great opportunity to taste many of their products too (obviously!).
Where it all began…
Chase Distillery was founded by William Chase, who was born and bred in Herefordshire and spent 20 years of his career farming potatoes to supply to supermarkets.
Despite his appreciation of farming and the beautiful part of the country he worked in, Will often found himself feeling detached; primarily due to supplying the supermarkets, he had no connection or feedback from the end customer.
With this in mind, he changed his focus and, after travelling the world for ideas and inspiration, he founded the well-known kettle crisp company, Tyrrell’s, which can be found in many pubs and major supermarkets across the UK.
As Tyrrell’s success continued to grow, Will was eager to further diversify allowing for a more challenging, fun and adventurous project to turn his attention to; and so the Chase Vodka was born, also made using his crops of top quality Herefordshire potatoes!
Did you know that gin starts as vodka?
After successfully producing a great tasting vodka from his potatoes, Will was shocked at how little volume was produced (16 tonnes of potatoes, only made 1000 litres of vodka). However, he knew this was a testament to the premium quality of his vodka, and that it would be better recognised over other mass produced vodka brands. This was proven in 2016 when Chase Vodka was awarded a double gold, the highest commendation, in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
From field to bottle… Like our own ‘field to fork’ ethos for our pub menus, Chase also shares the same approach with their distilled spirits. Chase is the only distillery in the UK to use 100% of their home-grown potatoes and local water for their products, all of which are produced on their farm. From the distillery, you can look out across the stunning views of vibrant potato fields, apple orchards and a pool of natural spring water in the distance, from the Malvern Hills (apparently the Queen’s favourite water!).
Chase distil from scratch and approximately 250 Herefordshire potatoes are used to make every bottle! From the harvesting, peeling, mashing, fermenting and distilling; every step of the process is carefully and lovingly executed by the team on-site.
As Chase Vodka became increasingly popular, other botanicals were introduced to the spirit and after experimenting with other distilling processes, Chase started to produce their delicious range of gins. Ranging from their Chase GB Extra Dry gin with 10 botanicals (distinctively decorated with a Union Jack bow tie around the neck of the bottle), to their deliciously flavoured gins such as Seville Marmalade and Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo gin, all styled beautifully in intricately designed bottles.
Fancy a weekend away?
The distillery itself is quintessentially British, to match Chase’s branding and heritage. Surrounded by stunning farmland and just 15 minutes from the luxurious Verzon House Hotel, also owned by Will and his wife Kate, a trip up to Herefordshire makes for a fantastic weekend away.
With hints of a WW2 theme throughout the distillery, you can experience an informative tour with 1930’s music playing in the background and enjoy tastings of the spirits on their vintage Union Jack printed settee. Follow the distillery team in the process from farming the potatoes, all the way through to the bottling of the spirit and discover their traditional fermenting and distilling processes.
If time allows you can also enjoy a leisurely walk across the fields and orchards on the farm, before settling down for the evening at Verzon House. Tuck into a delicious local dish, accompanied with a variety of Chase cocktails and enjoy in-room amenities of Chase’s own apple cider vinegar health drink, made from the apples in their orchards.
A truly fantastic day out that we would highly recommend for the vodka and gin lovers out there!