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Historic Kent dockyard gets first craft distillery

A new craft distillery is due to open at Chatham Maritime’s historic docklands in Kent this summer – the first business of its kind in the area – responding to increasing demand for “hand crafted alternatives to mass produced products”.

Copper Rivet Distillery will produce a range of gins, vodkas, whiskies and unaged spirits for both the UK and international market. Taking a “grain to glass” approach, the team will mill, brew and ferment its own malts and grains, sourced from local farms, before distilling, maturing and bottling its spirits on-site.

Led by head distiller Abhishek Banik, its core product range will include Masthouse, a single malt whisky, Dockyard Gin, Vela Vodka and Son of a Gun, an unaged grain spirit designed specially for cocktails.

“In today’s society, where everything is about repackaging and upselling, there’s a consumer revolution taking place”, said co-founder Stephen Russell, who has opened the distillery in partnership with his father Bob Russell and brother Matthew.

“Consumers are asking for bespoke and hand crafted alternatives to mass produced products. It’s really satisfying to feel we’re playing a part in this revolution by creating something of real quality, from scratch, that consumers can discover, savour and enjoy.”

Work on the Copper Rivet distillery is due for completion by August. It will later be open to visitors who will be able to tour the Victorian pump house, see the distilling process in action, experiment with tastes in the laboratory and sample the premium Kentish craft spirits for themselves.

(L-R) Bob Russell, founder; Marisa McCarthy, finance manager; Amanda Harvey, marketing manager; Stephen Russell, founder; Matthew Russell, founder; and Abhishek Banik, head distiller

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