I have blogged before about my love of gin, and since then a fabulous shop stocking, amongst other things, a huge range of gin has opened in our village. I believe it was a complete coincidence that such a shop opened so close to where we live, and there wasn’t a demographic study completed to securitise funding against the future gin consumption of the local area……… Gin & Pickles is great for a coffee and cake, when it’s too early for gin, and gin and a cheese & meat platter later in the day.
Gin & Pickles has also hosted some gin tastings which I’ve gone to. The first couple I went to were hosted by The Gintleman, as in my first gin blog, and thankfully I’ve always consumed so much gin, lots of the information is forgotten between tastings! The most recent gin tasting was by Chase Distillery. This was a fortnight before my birthday – and the lovely brand ambassador, Tilly, mentioned that you could do tours of the distillery – and that they have a sister hotel that you can go to for a meal or even an overnight stay before or after your tour – and they will ferry you between the two places. This seemed an ideal birthday present from my husband to me (which obviously I sorted out myself #controlfreak) and last week we headed off for our tour of Chase and overnight stay at Verzon House.
We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and had a welcome drink – a gin and tonic, natch!
We were then whisked 20 minutes away in a mini bus to the Chase estate.
The tours can be anything up to 15 people – but there were only 5 on ours. There was us, a guy who had just started work for Chase, and then a couple from Devon. (Turns out they were actually originally Brummies like us – but had moved to Devon to run a hotel). We were a lively bunch – but that definitely added to the tour.
It was incredibly interesting – and almost emotional – I was so proud of them growing the potatoes which they make initially into vodka (using spring water from on site and wood to power the wood burning stoves from the site too) – which then is either flavoured as vodka, or distilled with juniper to become gin! So when people say they like vodka but don’t like gin, it’s often because they don’t like the taste of juniper (or in my sister’s case, we realised it was the tonic with the gin that was the issue – she’s now a gin and rose lemonade kind of girl!) But for people to say they like gin but don’t like vodka is a bit weird!
We got to smell and taste the output at different stages which was ‘interesting’ – my husband was not backward in some of his descriptions (it tastes like petrol etc!)
It’s also amazing to think that every bottle of booze with the Chase name on it goes through that distillery – Fat Betty and Ginny are working super hard (these are machines rather than staff members, of which there are 54 now – the new bloke on our tour being the 54th!!)
After we’d looked at all of the gin memorabilia, including the entire range of bottles – and smelt lots of botanicals, and posed for photos in front of Fat Betty – we then got to go downstairs and try LOTS of the produce! Given we already own most of the gins, we tried lots of the vodkas – and I am a total convert. The straight potato vodka is lush – just so smooth compared to teenage experiences with cheaper grain based vodkas! And the flavoured ones wonderful – we came home with quite a few!!! The bottles we acquired being presented in potato bags was a fab touch.
We were then escorted back to Verzon House to prepare for dinner.
The hotel room was lovely – although somewhat warm (not helped by the husband having a boiling hot bath in the middle of the bedroom!) There is quite a lot of stuffed animal art on the walls – it didn’t bother us (although the husband impersonating all of them got a little wearing!) but we did wonder what a vegetarian might think if they stayed there?!
The food was AMAZING! The cocktails were great too. There wasn’t a huge amount of atmosphere in the restaurant, but it was a mid week stay in March – so not many tables. All of the staff were really attentive and did a great job.
Breakfast the next morning was served in the bar rather than the restaurant – and we were the only guests – but it was plentiful and tasty. I’d recently been converted to the product of another sister company, Willy’s Apple Cider Vinegar, and thought I’d miss my daily dose whilst away – but they had some with breakfast! The husband wasn’t converted though…….
Overall it was a fabulous experience and one we’d highly recommend. There is a shop at the distillery so you can get products at bargain prices – but you really should do the tour as well! And you can get almost the entire range at Gin & Pickles too – to save the drive to Herefordshire.
This is not a sponsored post, we bought and paid for everything at all of the places mentioned above, I’m just sharing the love of gin – and now vodka! Cheers!