Potato Vodka Has Given the Jarron Family Lots to CelebrateNeil Hardie
Tended by the Jarron family for four generations, these are exciting times down on the farm – and for Scotland’s first potato vodka
Graeme Jarron and wife Caroline, who works as an interior designer, had always wanted to diversify on the farm and, while spending time working in Australia many years ago, they got the idea to do something quite unique.
Graeme takes up the story: “The family I worked for grew their own grapes and produced their own wine which they would sell at local farmers markets,” he recalls.
“I loved that they did everything in house and had a story to go out and tell, so I’ve brought this into the vodka that we now produce on our family farm.”
So what was the inspiration behind Ogilvy’s Scottish Potato Vodka?
“We are potato farmers who grew frustrated with the unwanted potatoes that supermarkets don’t want,” he explains.
“There is a lot of time and effort invested in growing our potato crops, and we wanted to make the most of the potatoes that we grow.
“That led us to explore other ways to utilise the outsized potatoes and took us down the path of producing vodka from them.”
Now producing award-winning single estate premium vodka, production is based on a ground to glass ideology, to form a small-batch local liquor of international quality.
And if you’re wondering if you can taste the potatoes in the vodka, Graeme has the answer.
“Potato vodka does tend to differ from grain-based vodka and we have worked very hard to create a vodka that has taste,” he explains. “The base ingredients have a huge part to play in the final flavour that we achieve. The potatoes caramelise as they cook which lends a sweetness to our vodka.
“The potato base also makes a very creamy-textured vodka that is smooth enough to drink need over ice,” he continues.
The entire process of creating the vodka, from field to bottle, takes place on the farm, and Graeme proudly reveals: “Unlike many of the gins on the market currently, we produce our vodka from scratch and not with bought-in spirit. Our potatoes are all grown on the farm, and we distil and bottle just metres from where they are grown.
“Our vodka takes around three weeks to produce, the focus being on creating the best possible vodka – we don’t want to rush our production.”
Using just one variety of potatoes for the vodka (Maris Pipers), Graeme explains: “For us, Maris Pipers work best for taste, so that’s the only variety that we use in our vodka.
“The potatoes are cooked first, turning them into a potato soup.
“We then ferment them and add yeast to activate the fermentation.
“Once the fermentation is complete, we distil our vodka twice before filtering it, and hand bottling and hand labelling on site.”
The vodka is available in several flavours including raspberry and lime; apple and elderflower; lemon, lime and mint; bramble and rhubarb; and Creme de Cassis.
“We source our flavours locally where possible, as we are surrounded by an abundance of fresh fruits in Angus,” says Graeme. “Our Crème de Cassis is made from surplus blackcurrants that would have otherwise gone to waste, so this has a great story to it too.”
One of the highlights of the job for the Jarrons is creating products that their customers love.
“It’s great to hear the feedback from our customers saying they have enjoyed our drinks, and we love to hear how they have been serving them,” smiles Graham.
“Our best measure of success is to see a customer return for their second, third and fourth bottle.
“It’s easy to sell a bottle to someone once, but you know you’re doing something right when they want to buy more and they bring their friends to try the products too.”
As with any business there are always going to be challenges and Graeme reveals: “With a huge amount of competition in the craft spirits sector at the moment we always have to be looking to stay ahead of the competition.
“We also strongly believe in being true to our brand, and not just producing new flavours for the sake of it.
“We want to create great tasting drinks that utilise local produce and that needs to be at heart of everything that we do.”
With no such thing as a typical day for Graeme and the team, variety is the spice of life.
“We can be in the fields ploughing, planting or checking the potatoes to distilling vodka, bottling and labelling,” he says.
“We can also be out at events tasting and sampling our range, or doing tours in our new visitor centre.”
So what’s their best seller?
“Our original vodka – the taste is really quite special,” says Graeme. “Smooth, sweet and delicious served just neat over ice, it’s something to savour. Simply garnish with a slice of ripe pear.”
So what’s next for the business?
“Focusing on export,” says Graeme.
“We are exporting our Perfect Pour cocktails to the Middle East, and also planning to have our vodka in duty free there this year too,” he says.
The Jarrons have recently completed their new visitor centre where customers will be able to experience the ground to glass production for themselves.
“The tour will begin with a short history of the family and brand before visitors jump on the tattie tours tractor to see the potato shed and distillery, say hello to the coos and finish up with those all-important tasters.”
Ogilvy Farm Visitor Centre is currently closed but keep an eye on ogilvyspirits.com for information.