From farm to bottle with Chase Distillery

James Chase tells us about his family's homegrown, farm to bottle, gin and vodka company
James Chase, Chase Distillery

Can you give us some background on Chase Distillery?

We’re a family distillery. We always say that’s quite a rare thing because you see a lot of brands and they don’t tend to be faceless but they can be owned by a multitude of big companies. But we’re very thankful for that because we wouldn’t be where we are today without the competition opening up the marketplace. But we’re a family distillery and we put our name on the bottle which makes us very approachable. We started in 2008 and our mission was to challenge the status quo and to pioneer a new way of thinking.

What sets Chase Distillery apart from the competition?

As a farmer, I think that if you spend a lot of money on a bottle that you should know exactly where it comes from. We started making vodka in 2008 and released our first gin in 2010, and we’re quite unique in that we make that gin from scratch. You’d never dream of buying a nice bottle of wine without knowing the terroir, the vineyard, the vins. We grow the potatoes, we distil that to vodka, then we redistill that with 10 botanicals to make our gin.

What are the current trends in gin?

Trends spawn very quickly. Spain kick-started the gin movement and the ability to make something very simple, not pretentious, and easy to order, which I think in 2007 was very hard for the English as there wasn’t the choice of brands. Because we have so many more distillers in the UK, they are educating people every day through distillery tours or tastings. The rise of gin and tonic at the dinner party went crazy and then of course you have a lot of ex-pats out here who bring that also. But bartenders are very much a social bunch, they’re always on social media talking to each other so the trends just grow very quickly. We’ll probably see cocktails here that would be drunk in Texas, Timbuctoo, or Hong Kong – the world is a very small place now and trends are global rather than just in one place.

How would you describe the Chase Distillery ethos?

We all agreed at Chase to have four pillars that we always stick to. The first is William Chase, my dad. He’s a crazy entrepreneur but I think he shows that good work and hard work can pay off. I spend most of my time retelling his story. Everyone loves a story and it’s easier to buy into the brand. The second is field to bottle. You’d never buy a nice bottle of wine without knowing where it came from and we want to do the same with spirits. The third is cocktails. Every time Chase is portrayed we need that perfect serve — like Hendricks had with the cucumber. With the vodka we always hero it in a martini, the gin in a gin and tonic with a slice of ginger, but they always have to look beautiful and drinkable. The fourth is British eccentricity. Look back to the days of Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and some amazing crazy comedies that Brits have come up with. We are very eccentric and we want to reflect that.

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