Will Chase, founder of Tyrrells, was faced with a quandary: what to do with all the potatoes from his farm at Tyrrell’s Court that are too small or too large to turn into crisps? “I came up with the idea two years ago,” says Chase.” I’d been in the US and found out about a guy that that was making vodka out of potatoes, just on a small scale. “I thought, ‘I could do that’.” It took one year to build the distillery. And quite a sizeable investment it was, too: £2m to get the machinery up and running. “It was a steep learning curve,” says vodka novice Chase. “The vodka is made in batches, and because all the potatoes are all different sizes, each batch ferments at a different rate.” Chase spent £0.5m to buy in bespoke technology, which could monitor and regulate the fermentation process. The first bottle goes on sale in March. Like the crisps, this is an artisan product. Limited supply, premium prices: Tyrrell’s vodka will retail for £40 a bottle. “It’s a really expensive process,” explains Chase. “But the margins are still pretty good – between 20 and 25 per cent.” Chase predicts a £10m turnover from the line in three years’ time. And there are opportunities to diversify, too. “We press our own juices here on the farm,” says Chase. “At some point, we could start bottling ready-mixed drinks.” At the moment, however, he recommends you drink his vodka straight. “It’s got a lovely, buttery, potato-ey taste.”
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