William Chase, founder of the award-winning Chase Vodka brand and the new Williams Great British Extra Dry Gin, has lambasted small and large distilleries for promoting factory-produced spirits as homemade and accused mass marketers of conning consumers.
Chase, whose idea for producing vodka came about after seeing all the leftover potatoes that weren’t good enough for the crisps at the Tyrrells crisps business he founded in 2002, said: “It’s time for food and drink producers to be honest with the buying public.
“It’s time to expose the fakes. If it’s factory-produced then don’t advertise it as ‘homemade’. If it’s the same beverage, don’t change the label just to increase the price,” he said.
“The reason we got into the distilling business is the famous brands such as Grey Goose, Belvedere and Ketel all are owned by massive companies just focusing on marketing a mass produced product.
“They lead the consumer into thinking its high quality by charging a lot of money for something that is cheap to produce,” Chase said.
According to Chase, small start-ups to large corporations are now hiring public relations firms to come up with what he called “twee stories”, to pretend to be something they aren’t.
He cited a northern England distillery that sells bottles of gin at three different prices: £15, £25 and £35 but the gin itself is the same.
“The drink’s botanical mix hardly changes, the only difference between the three is the bottle design,” he said.
“Now new small distilleries are popping up, pretending to produce homemade spirits when it’s all made with cheap ingredients. It’s not as bad if it’s a small operation but when it starts getting mass marketed, then it becomes a con job,” Chase said.
Chase’s vodka and gin is produced with a traditional still that also has a bespoke rectifying column a part of the batch distillation process (versus the continuous distillation process). It helps mix the vapour and the liquid, producing the condensate that is the vodka’s starting point.
Now Chase is using much the same process, equipment and fresh, farm-grown ingredients to produce Williams Great British Extra Dry Gin.
“It’s not just about my brand, it’s about this segment of the market. I don’t want people to see my product and, because of cheap imitators, think it just another one of those mass-produced beverages you can buy in bulk,” Chase said.
“I’m not saying everyone has to have their own farm to grow their own ingredients. I am saying they should contract with farmers to get the best product. Then put more time and effort into the distilling process.”