A Glass of Herts

Old Vodka, Church Farm, Ardeley

Old Vodka, Church Farm, Ardeley - Credit: Archant

A vodka distillery in rural Herts? Laura Vickers meets a Georgian with a 200-year-old secret

When Merab Salamashvili moved to Hertfordshire from his native Georgia in 2004, he brought with him his family’s precious vodka recipe, which has been passed down through generations of his ancestors in the Caucasus for more than 200 years.

Ten years later, in March of last year, Salamashvili opened his own distillery at Church Farm in the village of Ardeley near Buntingford after discovering that the farm is the source of a fresh water spring, perfect for making his triple-filtered Old Vodka.

He named his new company Pesvebi, the Georgian word for ‘roots’, which is doubly significant: not only does he produce vodka in the way his father taught him, he also loves how much Hertfordshire people enthuse about drinking locally-made products.

‘People buy a bottle, then come back the next day for another one!’ he laughs. The drink certainly has a pleasingly fresh, clean taste, making it equally good on its own over ice as it is in cocktails.

The company has also released several flavoured vodkas, starting with a smooth and dangerously sippable caramel, made using caramel Salamashvili creates himself. ‘I made about 350 bottles before Christmas to sell in the farm shop and expected to sell about 100,’ he explains. ‘Within two weeks, I’d sold more than 300.’

The caramel Vodka has been followed by zingy lemon, perfumed honey and surprisingly delicious and invigorating tarragon flavours.

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As well as being available at Church Farm, Pesvebi vodkas can be bought online through Amazon, and will also be stocked at the On the Green restaurant in Old Stevenage, due to open this spring. Prices start at around £20 per bottle.

To taste the drinks and take a tour of the distillery, email Salamashvili at info@oldvodka.co.uk or use the contact page on the website at oldvodka.co.uk

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