New Kent distillery set to launch hand-crafted spirits

copper rivet brewhouse

A range of premium spirits, from gin and vodka to whisky, are to be launched by a new craft distillery due to open in Kent this summer.

Copper Rivet Distillery (pictured) will carry out everything from milling, brewing and fermentation of the malts and grains, distilling, resting and maturing of the spirits, to bottling and packaging under one roof, using locally farmed, hand-selected grains.

It has been set up in Chatham Maritime by Bob Russell with his sons Matthew and Stephen, whose family has long wanted to enter spirits production. They have brought in head distiller Abhishek Banik.

The core product range will include Dockyard Gin, Vela Vodka and Son of a Gun – an unaged grain spirit designed especially for cocktails. It will also produce a single malt whisky, Masthouse.

The team plan to keep the business local by sourcing everything, from the raw grains used in the spirits to the stills wrought and built by craftsmen, in the local area.

The distillery is inside Pump House No 5, which was once part of Chatham’s historic dockyard. The
Victorian building was used to pump water out of the dry docks and is one of the latest dockyard buildings to be brought back into use.

Matthew said: “Chatham Maritime and the dockyard has an incredible heritage of craftsmanship,
industry and innovation. We’re hoping to replicate and reinvent this proud tradition by producing exceptional gins, whiskies and vodkas from scratch in bespoke stills, wrought right here in Chatham, with the same skill that local craftsmen once fashioned world-class ships.”

Stephen added: “In today’s society, where everything is about repackaging and upselling, there’s a consumer revolution taking place. 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.”

Bob said: “After 15 years in the making, we’re thrilled to finally be opening the doors to our new distillery.

“We’re truly humbled by the massive support and interest we’ve received from the local community and businesses alike for our new venture. We hope people take the distillery to their hearts and look forward to playing our part in contributing to the regeneration of Chatham.”

The Copper Rivet Distillery will also be open to visitors, who can tour the Victorian pump house and see the distilling process in action, experiment with tastes in the laboratory and sample the spirits for themselves.

Work is due to reach completion on the craft distillery by August, with the distillery open for a limited number of exclusive preview tours by prior arrangement from July. To book a tour, contact the team at

copper rivet stills

Previous Happiness Forgets competition seeks up-and-coming bartending talent
Next Tango inspires new range of flavoured popcorn