Food + Drink

There’s something special brewing… Copper Rivet Distillery

Tucked neatly away in one of the old Victorian pump houses in the famous Chatham Dockyard, the Copper Rivet Distillery is a newcomer to the craft distillery scene, but one that looks set to last. 


With its small batches of exceptional beers, gins, whiskies and vodkas, all made completely from scratch, this is a different innovation in craft brewing and distilling that works wonderfully well in today’s climate – a climate that demands something special every time.

There is something rather exciting about entering the Copper Rivet Distillery. Walking through the doors – newly renovated though they might be – of this old building brings with it a sense of history. It’s just there, seeping through the red brickwork, hovering in the air. There is something brewing – literally in this case – behind an imposing door, and it is through that door that any visitor will want to venture. I know I did, with the enticing scents and soft rumblings coming from behind it.

And thankfully, my curiosity was soon to be sated as I was to enjoy (and enjoy is certainly the word) a tour of the workings of this new distillery.

The Copper Rivet Distillery is the only distillery in Kent (and one of only a handful in the UK, in fact) that does absolutely everything, owner Matthew Russell proudly tells me. And he should be proud. This fact alone makes family-run Copper Rivet stand out amongst its competitors.

Distillery interior

The first item I’m shown once I’m through that fascinating door is the grain. This is hugely important because without this seemingly small, perhaps even insignificant little thing, there would be no gin, no vodka. Nothing. Most distilleries bypass this part of the process, preferring instead to buy in the base spirits, rather than make them themselves. Since Copper Rivet starts at the very beginning, they are able to pick and choose which grains they take – and they can make sure they use local products too.

The tour followed the process of these grains as they are turned into gin or vodka, and the hops as they are turned into beer. Your tour guide will happily crank open the heavy machinery for you to have a whiff (don’t lean too far in!), and the excitement that comes from the staff as they too get to see what’s going on is palpable. They really do love what they do – passion is an oft overused word, but in this case it’s spot on.

By the end of the tour you will know how to distil your own spirits, but of course, to do it right – the way Copper Rivet does – you’ll also need some of the bespoke machinery and coppers that they have had made specially. One of a kind, these are all part of what makes Copper Rivet tick.

Cocktail shot 2

After the tour, it’s time to try out some of the product of all this hard work. Small tasters of gin and vodka come with the tour, or you can buy larger measures if you prefer. The gin was my particular favourite, with notes of Earl Grey tea and a citrus tang.

The Copper Rivet Distillery tour is a lovely way to spend an hour or two learning about how we in Kent are now leading the way when it comes to making exceptional spirits.

To book a tour or shop their range of gin, vodka and whisky, visit



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