I have never made any secret of my penchant for Chase products. A quick perusal through the archives of this blog is testament to my unerring love for all things Chase (see list at the end of this post), which began with their Elderflower Liqueur (better than St Germain) and now encompasses, pretty much everything they make; a great deal of which, you will find, weighing down the shelf in my studio, dedicated to my home bar.
After a leisurely lunch at the Orange Tree in Hereford, who, of course, stock Chase products (Chase Marmalade Vodka is a big hit apparently), it was off for a magical mystery tour of the farmland of Herefordshire in the back of a navigationally challenged cab driver, until we finally arrived at our destination. The distillery is located within the acreage of Rosamaund Farm, which was what confused our taxi driver, but actually, upon arrival, the numerous, Chase branded crates, dotted around the farm buildings, make it very clear that it is the home of the distillery.
We were greeted by a very friendly, but somewhat hot and bothered, Alex Davies, who had just descended from the dizzying heights of the rectification column where the vodka undergoes its final distillation processes. The column is the tallest in the world of it's kind and the temperature at the top, on a day when the temperature outside was nudging 30 degrees, was pretty fearsome.
The tallest rectification column in the world
Fields of Lady Claire Potatoes
Rosamaund Farm apple orchards
It may surprise you to learn that gin is essentially made from vodka and in most cases, from a base grain spirit that is bought in and then distilled with botanicals, the main one of which will be juniper. There is no secret to this and it's not necessarily a bad thing, but having been to the Chase farm and distillery and seen the very apples and potatoes that made my drink, I do find it reassuring to know exactly what's in there. So you see, the reason Naked Chase is so monikered, is because it is basically, the gin without all of the botanicals and it says a lot for the quality of the product, that it is an exceptional drink in it's own right.
After a brief tour of the fields and orchards, we escaped the heat of the sun and headed indoors to the distillery, where Alex talked us through the processes that the potatoes and apples undergo, before they can be bottled and sold. There's a machine that sorts and washes the potatoes, before chopping them up and pushing them through a ricer to make them as fine as possible before they begin the fermentation process in the tanks, with the help of brewers yeast, until they form a low alcohol, potato wine.
The fermentation tanks
The Chase, bespoke, copper, batch pot
Williams Seville Orange Gin
Chase Bramley Apple Vodka
Slightly woozy from sun and sampling, we wound our hazy way back to Hereford Station in a taxi that thankfully, knew where it was going and agreed that it was a most pleasant excursion and a must for anyone who loves good quality booze and a British success story.
Chase Distillery is open for public tours on Fridays and is well worth the £10 ticket price, which includes a £5 voucher, redeemable against any purchase over £20 in the shop, and trust me, you'll need it. I defy anyone to leave there empty handed!
And so to the cocktails...
Apple and ginger is a winning combination. The warmth of ginger and the tart, sweetness of apple are a lively combination and for this drink, I used as my inspiration, a favourite of mine, the Penicillin cocktail, which uses honey/ginger syrup and lemon juice with a single malt, to great effect. This combination is also really great with Chase Smoked Vodka, but for today, we're going for a different, more fruity finish, that is sure to appeal to most.
Chase Bramley Apple and Ginger
1 1/2 oz Chase Bramley Apple Vodka
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz honey/ginger syrup
Slice of apple to garnish
Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled rocks glass with one or two large ice cubes and the slice of apple
Chase Smoked Mary
2 oz Chase Smoked Vodka
2 oz tomato juice
1/4 oz lime juice
Dash of Encona Hot Sauce
1/2 rasher of crispy streaky bacon to garnish
Add all of the ingredients, apart from the bacon, to a shaker and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the bacon.
Chase Smoked Espresso Martini
2 oz Chase Smoked Vodka
1 oz Clement Sirope de Canne (vanillie, canelle,girofle)
1 oz chilled espresso coffee
Lotus coffee biscuit crumbs for garnish
Add the vodka, syrup and espresso to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and sprinkle with the biscuit crumbs
Most Espresso Martini recipes require a coffee liqueur, but trust me, with these ingredients, you won't need it. This syrup is just incredible and the smoky flavour of the vodka works so well, you couldn't imagine it any other way. You can order Clement Sirope de Canne (and Chase Smoked Vodka for that matter), from Amathus Drinks. I bought mine from their City branch on the recommendation of the highly knowledgable staff and have not been disappointed.
2 oz Williams GB Gin
1/2 oz Luxardos Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Bitter Truth Creme de Violette
1 oz lemon juice
Cocktail cherry to garnish
Add all of the ingredients, apart from the garnish, to a shaker with ice.
Shake hard for about 20 secs and strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a cherry
I first made this cocktail for a post called Mother's Ruin and in it I used a different gin and slightly less lemon juice. I found the drink to be so much more enjoyable, made to this recipe, which illustrates perfectly, what a difference, very slight changes can make to a drink. Experimentation is key to finding out what you really like and if it's not the 'classic' way, it really doesn't matter, as long as you love it.
Chase Apple Blossom Martini
1 oz Chase Bramley Apple Vodka
1 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 oz Fentimans Rose Lemonade
Thin round of apple to garnish
Add all of the ingredients, apart from the apple round, to a shaker and shake for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the apple round.
Of course, this is only a martini in the sense that it served in a martini glass, but it crisp, floral, sweet and fresh, without being too strong. A lovely drink for a summer's afternoon.
For more delicious cocktails, featuring Chase Distillery products, please take a look through these vintage posts;