Last month, Herefordshire-based distillery Chase embraced the hard seltzer trend with the release of its range of Gin Seltzers. Jacopo Mazzeo caught up with founder James Chase to explore how the distillery developed a product tailored for the UK market
It was only last year that the hard seltzer craze took over the United States, and yet it feels like the category has been around forever. The Americans developed such an unquenchable thirst for alcoholic flavoured waters that in September 2019, local media reported a nationwide shortage of White Claw, America’s leading hard seltzer brand.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the category seemed far from taking off. At least until the past few months’ oodles of new releases (which team Imbibe swiftly reviewed in the Community Edition of the magazine) proved that our market was ready for it. Not even the Covid-19 lockdown managed to hinder the hard seltzer charge. If anything, it made it stronger.
One such release clearly stood out for its somewhat understated uniqueness – Chase Distillery’s range of Gin Seltzers.
A 'decent' base alcohol
Chase's Gin Seltzers were launched on the market in early July: ‘we turned around the whole project in a month,’ says director James Chase.
The range comprises a line-up of three hard seltzers, each resulting from a blend of Chase gins and locally sourced water. The three expressions are Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo, made with the namesake flavoured gin as its base alcohol; Seville Orange, made with Seville Marmalade Gin; and London Dry & Lemon gin, made with Chase’s flagship GB Gin.
Perhaps we can marry the inspiration from [the US] with actually a decent base alcohol and make something that has pedigree and provenance
Chase claims that the idea of investing in this category came to him while experiencing its growth first hand: ‘My Gin Seltzers have been inspired by my time living in the US last year. I saw the category growing from nothing and I was intrigued. But a lot of these hard seltzers weren’t really looking at provenance, just a booze and light flavour, so when I moved back to England, just before Covid-19 broke out I thought “perhaps we can marry the inspiration from there with actually a decent base alcohol and make something that has pedigree and provenance”.’
It’s that provenance that gives Chase’s interpretation of the category its extra gear. Instead of using any anonymous distilled alcohol as its base ingredient, Chase employs his range of flavoured gins before they’re cut down to 40%, then joined by locally sourced water which is then carbonated in the can. ‘It’s a higher distillate that’s going into the water,’ says Chase, meaning the drinks don’t need extra flavourings to pump up the taste.
The result is a range of pleasurable and refreshing fizzy drinks, targeting a crowd that isn’t simply after a cheap buzz (‘[by mixing gin] with soda you can actually taste the gin,’ says Chase).
With social distancing measures in place, Chase’s three canned seltzers seem like a viable option for those who want to experience the distillery’s gin range while maximising speed of service and minimising contact between bartender and guest. And by replacing seltzer’s ‘hard’ character with that UK-friendly ‘gin’ element, Chase has innovated on the category while giving it a comfortably familiar appeal.
4% abv, RRP £7.50/3x250ml cans, Chase Distillery, chasedistillery.co.uk