Copper Rivet Distillery - Spirits on Chatham Docks

It is now the end of January and we are off for our second visit of the month to meet another one of our local producers.  We are not sure what it says about us but it is yet another drinking visit.  This time we head out in the gorgeous sunshine, a perfect day for walking rolling hills, unfortunately we are headed for a very different location this time.  We are going to the docks, Chatham docks to be exact.  As we roll into the car park, we are greeted by the most magnificent building.  It is the old pump house number 5 of the Chatham Dockyards and the home of Copper Rivet Distilleries.  Our contact Georgina greets us in a very warm and professional manner giving us a brief history of the building and the family run company’s origins.  You could feel the passion of the family and all of the employee’s throughout our visit and this was evident from the first person we spoke to, to the last.

The Distillery is fairly new by industry standards but already a well-known name especially here in Kent.  They produce ‘Dockyard’ Gin, ‘Vella’ Vodka, Whisky (still too young to be available), and a new unaged spirit ‘Son of a Gun’.  We were taken on our tour by Richard, a very knowledgeable and passionate ambassador of the distillery.  On our tour we were introduced to the brewers and the inventor of the stills.  It was very personable and intimate which enabled us to really understand the process’ and creations we were being shown.

The tour of the distillery took us from the grain, through the technical process’ the grain goes through, then on into the most fantastic, individually designed stills, through to the botanicals that flavour the final gin to the glass we tasted at the end.  This is how the tour works and exactly how the process works, you truly do get the grain that is grown in a local farm, mashed (and the by-product returned to the farm for the animals), distilled, filtered, flavoured and bottled, all on site.  All the time we are introduced to the personal stories of the family and the naming of the stills, the background of the names given to the drinks.  I especially enjoyed the clarification of the name Son Of A Gun, which is the unaged spirit, we were told that the expression son of a gun came from the navy, historically as the seaman were not on dry land often, the navy had ladies on the boats serving the men and if there should be a pregnancy and the father was not known, then the baby would be a son of a gun and forever looked after by the navy.  It is also told that if a pregnant woman on a navy ship was in labour then a gun would sound to help bring on the birth and this again was why the baby would be, the son of a gun.  Both great stories for a great new drink on the market so versatile you can really have fun with this one.  The tour was finished with a tasting session, (well somebody has to).  I had a Vela vodka which was served with Madagascan Coke, bitters, and lime, it was truly delicious and I think will be on my drinking list.

My final thoughts as we headed away from the distillery were of how lucky we are in Kent to have such wonderfully attentive and passionate producers in our County and as a pub we are proud to show case all of their hard work and dedication to their craft.  If you can’t make it to the distillery yourself, come and have a glass of their passion with us here at The Kings Head in Wye.  You can always check out their website We can always arrange a tour for you during your stay with us, just ask us for details.