Locally-grown potatoes used to make hand-crafted vodka

Nine Tines Vodka founders, from left, Helen, Tim, Richard and Gwen. Photograph by Richard Walker/ImageNorth.

Potatoes grown near Richmond are being used to make the county’s first potato vodka.

Collaboration Spirits’ Nine Tines Vodka has already won two golds and a silver at the Global Vodka Masters.

Nine Tines is the brainchild of two couples potato farmers Tim and Helen Westgarth, who farm at Gilling West, and friends Richard Smith and Gwen Bromley.

Richard said: “We have purposely gone against the grain in creating Nine Tines Vodka by crafting a potato-based vodka that uses the best Yorkshire ingredients.

“There are only a handful of English potato-based vodkas but they’re capturing people’s imagination as it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. It’s smooth and creamy without the harshness associated with grain-based spirits.”

The name is inspired from the number of ‘tines’ on a potato fork which is used to gently lift the potatoes from the ground, what historians would call a sippet. With specially rounded ends to ensure the precious potatoes are not damaged when hand turning, a sippet traditionally had nine tines in a simple row.

The two couples were already friends when a chance conversation about farm diversification led to the idea of launching the vodka.

“Richard joked about trying to make vodka from the farm’s potatoes,” said co-founder Tim.

“I’m always looking at ways to diversify, so I said ‘let’s give it try’.”

Richard added: “We are responsible for the entire process from growing the potatoes to distillation with the journey from field to bottle just nine miles.

“The only ingredients that go into the vodka are potatoes grown in the fresh air, spring water from the farm and a little yeast and enzymes, added during fermentation.”

The couples say the drink is a smooth grain and gluten-free vodka which has been hand-crafted from field to bottle – nine miles from field to distillery – using pure spring water. It is distilled 30 times over copper plates before being filtered  through charcoal for five days.

It is available to buy direct from Nine Tines, and is also on sale at Middleton Lodge and Mainsgill Farm Shop.