IT IS the spirit of choice on the upmarket cocktail bar scene whether distilled from an Icelandic waterfall or flecked with gold.
But now a farmer who produced Scotland’s first potato vodka just three months ago has won a double gold medal and sliver for at the prestigious 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Graeme Jarron, from Hatton of Ogilvy farm in Angus, produces 2,000 bottles of Ogilvy Vodka a month, which sells at £34.99 and is building up a growing following of devotees who are turning away from mass-market producers in favour of small-scale artisandistillers.
Mr Jarron, founder of Ogilvy Spirits, decided to branch out into the highly competitive vodka world after becoming disappointed at the low prices supermarkets were offering for his potatoes.
He also realised that the key ingredients for the new venture – Maris Piper potatoes and water from the Ogilvy burn – were already on site.
The project got under way after a small consultation project with researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh
People are reacting against bigger brands and want home-grown productsPaul Waterson
“I studied Agriculture at the Scottish Agriculture College (SAC) near Aberdeen and I knew when I returned to work on the farm that I wanted to do something a bit different,” Mr Ogilvy said.
“I did some research and realised producing a vodka from potatoes would not only be unique to Scotland but also a great example of ground to glass ideology.
Mr Jarron continued: “I approached Heriot-Watt University in 2012, as I knew of their International Centre of Brewing and Distilling.
A group of students helped me do some research into the possibility of using Scottish potatoes to produce vodka. The results were positive and after working on a feasibility study and business plan with the SAC we decided to take the plunge.”
Ogilvy Spirits then recruited a Heriot-Watt University PhD student, Abhishek Banik, as the distiller on the venture.
Mr Banik said: “Graeme’s aim was to create a sipping vodka that, similar to a whisky, would give a multitude of flavours and could be savoured.
The result is a vodka which can be drunk on its own with a few cubes of ice and a slice of pear.
Mr Banik added that the vodka has a range of notes including toffee and caramel which are achieved through specific distillation techniques.
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said there had been an “explosion” in small artisan distilling businesses.
“It is really good to hear about Ogilvy Vodka getting international recognition for what’s going on in Scotland.
“People are reacting against bigger brands and want home-grown products. They are in effect “drinking less, but drinking better” and want something unrecognisable with a bit of character to experiment with.”
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