Wonky spud vodka couple eye export market

Graeme and Caroline Jarron
Image caption Graeme and Caroline Jarron reckon there is demand for their vodka overseas

A potato-farming couple who make vodka using spuds which are too "wonky" to sell in supermarkets are planning to sell their product across the globe.

Caroline and Graeme Jarron have been distilling Ogilvy Vodka at their Angus farm since 2014.

They have found it tough selling in the UK, but believe there could be big demand for their product in places like the US and Middle East.

The couple have also opened a £150,000 vodka visitor centre at their farm.

Now, they are driving forward plans to take their product global.

"We're actively looking at opportunities in the Middle East and in America," Caroline told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"I think there's some big vodka-drinking markets globally, the trend being gin in the UK at the moment so that's been a tougher market for us.

"We are up against the mainstream vodkas and that's quite tough for us in terms of pricing – we're a lot more expensive to produce our vodka."

Caroline said making the first batch of vodka for sale came at the end of a long process.

"We have potatoes that we sell to supermarkets, but there's the wonky ones – the ones that are too big, too small, a bit ugly," she said.

"We didn't know what to do with those ones so it was frustration with that and trying to find a use for them that led us to this."

Image copyright Photographer: Jakub Iwanicki
Image caption The vodka is made using misshapen potatoes that would not normally make it onto supermarket shelves

The wife and husband team first worked with Heriot-Watt University's brewing and distilling department.

"Graeme drove down week after week with sacks of potatoes and they took it on as a bit of a test project," said Caroline.

They then spent another seven months perfecting the process, before settling on Maris Piper as the perfect potato with which to make vodka.

Scotland's spirits industry is best-known for making whisky, while the number of gin producers has been growing steadily.

"We've gone against the trend, but tried to do something a bit different to stand out from the crowd," said Caroline.

"There has been this big boom in gin – but a lot of them buy in the base spirit. We grow the potatoes, we distil it and we bottle it all on the farm ourselves."

Graeme and Caroline are also hoping their new visitor centre will attract 3,000 people in its first year, by providing a behind-the-scenes look at how a potato vodka distillery works.

"A lot of people approached us to see if we do tours, and we haven't had the facility to do it up until know," said Caroline.

"We are something different. We're not whisky, we're not gin. People are really keen to see how we produce it."

For more on this story and the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.

Original Article