It’s not what you expect to find down a quiet lane through the orchards of rural Herefordshire. A cool bar behind a bustling distillery that makes some of the most sought-after spirits and liqueurs in the world.
But then William Chase isn’t your average potato farmer.
An ever-inventive entrepreneur, he founded Tyrrell’s crisps before moving on to distil his spuds and apples. Chase Distillery has branched out to make elderflower liqueur, marmalade vodka, smoked vodka, sloe and mulberry gin, a Chase Fruit Cup (think Pimm’s, but better), rhubarb vodka, a summery pink grapefruit gin and a limoncello called Pococello, among others.
At the distillery, William shows me a Kilner jar of horrid grey sludge. It’s the Hereford potato pulp he turns into the spirit base for many products and I’m reminded of the magical process of distillation.
He seems enchanted by his alchemy; now he’s making a whisky, slumbering in barrel, to be released in 2020.
All of which makes this brand one to watch. The book of William’s story, part-autobiography, part-recipe/cocktail compendium, One Potato, Two (Single Estate Publishing, £25), is a page-turner, charting the downs as well as the ups.
Best read with a cocktail in hand – I like his son James’s 'Bees Knees’:
Chase makes two main gins, the Elegant, which is lighter and apple-based, and this juniper-strong potato-based one, good for robust cocktails. 40% abv.
Serve this scented, slightly sweet liqueur very cold indeed, on the rocks, on hot evenings. Or top with prosecco for a sparkling cocktail. 20% abv.
When it’s colder, take a nip of this autumnal liqueur, deep ruby red with a marzipan-almond edge. Or, splash it into a blackberry pie. 29% abv.