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Maidstone Distillery in Market Buildings launches with George Bishop London Dry Gin

A business which aims to re-claim Maidstone's historic distilling legacy has opened.

Maidstone Distillery is now offering its first tipple, George Bishop London Dry Gin, to customers, and tours among the giant copper vessels start next month.

After deciding to invest their life savings into the venture two years ago, founders Darren and Sam Graves have carried out extensive research into the County Town's forgotten spirit industry.

Maidstone's distilling history spanned almost 250 years, with two different but equally successful centres producing world-famous spirits. One of these was Maidstone Geneva gin, of which, at its peak, more than 5,000 gallons was produced per week.

The first distillery closed down in 1818, but the town continued its strong connection to distilling right up until 1982 with a second Maidstone Distillery.

However, since then, the history of the craft has somewhat faded into the background - which is where the new Market Buildings distillery comes in.

Mr Graves said: "We felt compelled to resurrect this legacy and create something the town could be proud of once again.

Darren and Sam Graves, founders of Maidstone Distillery
Darren and Sam Graves, founders of Maidstone Distillery

"We have a beautiful 450 litre copper still that can make a full range of spirits, but feel it's most important to us that people share our experience and visit the distillery to learn of our rich past, see the distilling process or even have a go themselves on small cooper pot stills in our experience room."

The business was originally set to launch earlier this year, but plans were plunged into uncertainty when the pandemic struck.

However, the Bearsted couple decided to use their expertise to help the fight against coronavirus, producing thousands of litres of hand sanitizer for schools, rail workers and care homes, among others.

As lockdown restrictions ease, they have been able to start selling the George Bishop London Dry Gin and are in the process of creating their second drink, Ranscombe Wild Dry Gin, and liqueur.

George Bishop, a tribute to the man who installed the first Maidstone Distillery in 1785, is £39 a bottle.

The business has launched its first spirit - George Bishop London Dry Gin
The business has launched its first spirit - George Bishop London Dry Gin

Tours start at £18 and are set to begin on Friday, August 28, with bookings now being taken online, and the distillery is open from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 2pm.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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