Chase Distillery talks sustainability, Huxley and being Alexa's favourite gin

27 March 2018

Chase Distillery is quickly becoming the darling of the British spirits industry. It's a story of entrepreneurship and perseverance, turning disused crisp potatoes into a booming vodka and gin empire. Not one for settling down, the brand never falters when it comes to product development, from the likes of Eureka Citrus Gin and Espresso Vodka, to purchasing Maison Williams Chase winery in Provence. Just ask Amazon Alexa what her favourite gin is...

Now, as the Herefordshire-based distillery turns 10, the Chase team is looking to the next decade, turning its attention to the industry buzz-word of the moment – sustainability.

James, William and Harry Chase
James, William and Harry Chase

Part of a 10-year business plan, the Distillery has set out to meet its targets of becoming fully carbon neutral, joining the likes of Sweden's Absolut Vodka. On top of carbon neutrality, the brand also aims to help preserve the local environment surrounding the bustling farm and distillery, where the family have been based for three generations.

'As a family business we are committed to future generations and from establishing in 2008, we have always taken a long-term view,' begins director James Chase on the reasons behind the project. 'If you look specifically at our category, we are one of very few distilleries who don’t buy in neutral grain spirit. This is often sourced, made and distilled on the other side of the world in huge monolithic factories whose shareholders are concerned about profit and not the greater impact on the environment. We’re a family distillery, and I want to leave the farm and its impact on the land and air in a better state than I started with.'

A key player in Chase's 10-year plan is the arrival of 'Huxley' this year. Fuelling the entire distillery, Huxley is a biomass boiler powered solely by waste wood chips, some of which are taken from its apple orchard prunings and other crops planted on the farm. Chase is also using its potato peelings from its King Edward and Lady Claire crops to feed the cows. Using such materials from the farm to fuel the boiler and its livestock is another tick on the sustainability checklist for Chase, alleviating the need for further transport.

The distillery grows, harvests, mashes and distils all of the products on the family farm, allowing Chase complete control over every aspect of production and to see the project through successfully. 'If you are single estate in your approach, you are by far more in tune with the land and environmental changes than most,' adds founder William Chase on his passion for sustainability. ‘It is unlikely the true benefits of our recent changes will be seen straight away, or even in five year’s time; but will lay out a self-sufficient and truly sustainable future for us and our local environment for generations to come.’

But it doesn't stop there, with water efficiency and wastage also being combated by the brand. To minimise the wastage of water used in its distillation processes Chase has installed a system that recycles all the cooling water from the condensers of its stills to keep its fermentations chilled, improving the overall quality of the spirit.

Looking ahead, Chase Farm has high hopes of being fully self-sufficient by 2020, ranking high on the list of global green distilleries such as Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Ketel One. 'I admire Bruichladdich, who since they started have always had a long term vision from water management to sourcing only the best local ingredients,' added James. 'We regularly visit to improve our understanding of our impact and vice versa.'

With full-steam ahead to self-sufficient by 2020, all excess heat from the distillery’s production process will be used to power the offices and buildings on site- and return electricity to the grid when not needed.

'I don’t want my children to be faced with the huge task of cleaning up our impact on the planet, its our responsibility to act now and a small change goes a long way,' concludes James.

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