Chase vodka, the only potato vodka distilled in England, is the creation of William Chase, better known as the bloke who made a mint as the founder of Tyrrells crisps.
It all starts in the potato grading shed, a giant structure, like an aircraft hanger.
It is here that rotating teams of manual workers toil from 6am to 8pm, seven days a week, sorting through the huge lorry-loads of potatoes that are driven into the shed with rapid regularity. The wet weather has slowed down the harvesting process but 200 tonnes of premium root veg are being handled each day.
The lorries deposit the muddy spuds into a big hopper. A mechanical sorter removes the soil and stones and then there is a visual inspection. The method is indicative of the distillery’s vodka-making process, which is very much hands on.
The large potatoes are still used for crisps and are sent on to Tyrrells while the smallest are used for seed potatoes. In the past, the middle-sized potatoes were sold as animal feed but they are now used for vodka. “It is almost a free ingredient to me,” says Jamie.
“We can make 3,500 bottles a week. Smirnoff make about five million,” says Jamie. “We cannot compete on bulk sales or price. Our product has to stand out and be very different. It is artisan made, with love and care.