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Gin maker Copper Rivet Distillery warns less grain available after heatwave

By Jenna Dobbs

A gin maker has warned there is less grain available to make alcoholic spirit after heatwave conditions affected crops.

Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham Maritime said the continuous sunshine has hit volumes of grain, which it ships over Sheppey.

However, bosses said the extreme temperatures will not lead to a shortage of the spirit and reassured that an increase in prices is unlikely.

The Copper Rivet Distillery at Chatham Maritime. Picture: Chris Davey
The Copper Rivet Distillery at Chatham Maritime. Picture: Chris Davey

Co-owner Matthew Russell said: "There will be less grain available this year, maybe 15% less from East Anglia, but the quality is looking high.

"The germination of some lean grains could be an issue as 92% to 96% germination is required by maltsters.

"There’ll be fewer seeds with less energy in them which means less starch, less sugar and ultimately alcohol, but we won’t know the extent of this for a while.”

Copper Rivet is one of only 10 gin distilleries in Britain to make its own base spirit and the only one in Kent to sell gin that has been 100% made in the county.

Copper Rivet Distillery produces gin and vodka at Chatham Dockyard using grains grown on Sheppey
Copper Rivet Distillery produces gin and vodka at Chatham Dockyard using grains grown on Sheppey

Wheat, barely and rye is grown in Kent fields, before being ground, mashed and distilled on site.

Co-founders Bob, Matthew and Stephen Russell work alongside the Burden farming family on the Isle of Sheppey, who produce extra crops to allow for worst case scenarios.

Many farmers have faced huge problems this summer due a prolonged period of hot, dry weather.

Cornfield fires have raged across the county, destroying acres of valuable grains, and a lack of grass could lead to challenges feeding livestock this winter.

The Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham Maritime
The Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham Maritime

Copper Rivet predicts the increase in grain cost can be offset by savings made in other areas of the production process, in which costs also fluctuate.

Co-founder Stephen said: "We always felt that being the only distillery working in the way we do could expose us to the vagaries of agricultural yields.

"We built that into our requirements, growing to surplus, so the excess works as a buffer for unforeseen circumstances like we’re seeing now.

"With that, the general shortage should not materially affect us.

A gin festival is coming to Wetherspoons later this month
A gin festival is coming to Wetherspoons later this month

"We are a very small producer in the scheme of the whole market.

"These types of market movement are more likely to affect the very large manufacturing type producers.

"Time will tell whether they absorb any additional costs or seek to pass them on to their customers."

Gin lovers have plenty to celebrate in the county.

An 11-day gin festival coming to every Wetherspoons across the county.

It will run from Friday, August 17 and Monday, August 27, and include a selection of gins from around the world.

Each drink will be served in a special Copa de Balon glass, which has a bulbous shape, making it perfect for drinking gin and tonic.

There are more than 20 Wetherspoons pubs in Kent, located in Gravesend, Dartford, Dover, Tunbridge Wells, Sittingbourne, Deal, Maidstone, Ashford, Canterbury, Whitstable and Medway.

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