Vodka. For centuries, the drink of choice across Russia and Eastern Europe.
Now drinkers in the West Midlands, more often associated with pints of mild, will be able to get their hands on a home-grown version, after crisp company Tyrrells was given the go-ahead to start a premium vodka distillery.
The Herefordshire company was granted planning permission to erect a 15 ft distillery tower which will be able to make up to 3,600 bottles of spirit a week.
And the company, based at Stretford Bridge in Herefordshire, said it hoped the move would prove to be hugely profitable.
"The crisp market we are in is a billion pound market," said William Chase, who founded Tyrrells Crisps using potatoes from his farm in 2003. "But the spirit market is a £10 billion market."
He said the idea to move into distilling vodka had been floating around the company for nearly two years, as a way of using up the supplies of potatoes that were too small to be fried for crisps.
The Tyrrells distillery will be the only one in the UK to make vodka by the traditional Rus-sian and Eastern European method, using fermented potatoes. Other brands often use wheat or rye as a substitute in the distilling process.
"It's more an art than a science," said Mr Chase. "It's a lot of hard work, and because it takes so many potatoes, it's a very laborious method.
"It's taken us a couple of years because it's an age-old method and we wanted to get it right."
When it hits the shelves, Tyrrells Potato Vodka is expected to cost around £30 a bottle, making it one of the most expensive available.
Mr Chase said the high price and the decision to market the vodka under the Tyrrells name instead of the pseudo-Russian names seen on many vodka brands were part of a campaign to protect the crispmaker's identity.
"The main idea is to keep Tyrrells a premium brand, without putting it into the mass market," he said. "With the vodka, as with the crisps, we want to be right at the top of the market."
Tyrrells hopes to have the distillery in operation by February, and the vodka on shelve by the start of April.
It largely paid for the development of the distillery, which will use a converted hop kiln as well as the new tower, with a £5 million prize windfall won at the Bank of Scotland's Corporate £25 million Challenge at the start of November.
The firm also plans to use the distillery to turn waste oil (first used in the deep-fat fryers that make Tyrrells crisps) into bio-diesel, which will be used to run farm vehicles and a generator.
The bio-diesel generator is among a number of plans aimed at increasing the company's green credentials.
Tyrrells said it would also be funding research into the growing of its own organic oil seed rape, instead of importing it. And it will be putting money towards buying more bird boxes for the rare species of sparrows and young tawny owls that live in the company's organic apple orchards. In addition, more trees and hedges will be planted to provide extra cover for wildlife around the factory.
Residents initially protested when Tyrrells announced its plans to build the distillery, saying extra traffic, noise and emissions would be generated.
However, members of Herefordshire Council's northern area planning sub-committee visited the farm and the council later gave the firm the go-ahead.