As Hand Picked Hotels’ launches its first collaboration with the fabulous Chase Distillery, we took some time out to discuss the genius behind the brand and what makes them – a family business just like ours – really thrive!
Here is what James Chase, Global Brand Ambassador for Chase Distillery and son of Founder William Chase, had to say…..
Tell us a little about how it all started at Chase
My father William is a maverick potato farmer and has always been ahead of the curve with picking future trends. Chase originated from an idea whilst travelling through America searching for more frying equipment for our then crisp business. There were a few start up craft distilleries in 2007 in the USA that were interested in the authenticity of the spirit, less celebrity and package and more about taste and flavour. On the way back to the UK we realised we had a huge surplus amount of potatoes too small to make into crisps, and with no craft spirits yet on the market in the UK, we decided to build the UK’s first craft distillery to champion field to bottle spirit.
Chase vodka came off the still in 2008, and a few years later we redistilled that to make Chase GB Gin, it’s a little known fact that gin is made from vodka. Since then we are exporting to over 40 countries, but for us it always comes back to the true taste of our spirits, made from scratch.
We adopt a ‘home grown and local’ ethos within Hand Picked – sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local suppliers and producers – and working with brands that align with our values, so your story really resonates with us. What in your view, makes a food or drinks producer truly stand out from the crowd?
Passion is everything, from telling the story to creating the product. This passion is incredibly infectious and is the true winner.
We love the fact that Chase is independent and family owned, just like Hand Picked Hotels. How much are you and family still involved in the business?
We live and breathe Chase, I think this is inherent in many family businesses. And as farmers we love being involved in every aspect of the business. Just like Hand Picked Hotels, we think of the whole team as family, and this come across in everyone’s passion for our mission to educate about how spirits are made.
Why do you believe that British heritage brands, like Chase, are so important and so loved?
I think the Brit’s have always had an obsession with quality, there have been a few anomalies along the way, but we are in very interesting times and consumers more than ever are concerned with sustainability. To be sustainable a product needs to be well made and thought out, and historically our country has always been good in excelling at the detail.
What new innovations or products are you working on currently?
We are always trying and experimenting different ideas in our lab on the farm, we tend to work with the seasons and use ingredients best suited for their availability including botanicals from around the world. I think the most highly anticipated releases will be our single malt whisky due for release in the coming years, watch this space!
What other drinks trends do you see on the horizon?
A lot of leading figures in the media are choosing to drink less and better, and I think this is starting to really take hold in a wider demographic. And hopefully when folk do imbibe, they choose the most sustainable spirits out there, that put the planet first. I also think people will massively reduce their sugar intake, gin and soda is the way forward!
What motivates and drives you?
As a family, we have learnt an awful lot about how spirits are made and consumed. And we are incredibly driven to get as many people to discover that journey too. As farmers we want to offer value and bring true value to as many people as possible.
How do you relax?
I love to road bike, in Herefordshire there are some great roads to cycle around, plenty of hills en route to the distillery for my morning commute.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
I am not very good at sitting still and love to Ski, I have just returned from skiing the Grand Couloir in Courchavel.
Read more about the Chase family here.