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Gin from Invoke distillery in Wrotham Heath wins at 2024 London Spirits Competition

Friends who met at the pub and started making gin together have hit gold at their first attempt.

Lee Hall and James Hackney, who live close to each other in Wrotham Heath, started their Invoke Distillery during 2019.

Lee Hall and James Hackney in their distillery
Lee Hall and James Hackney in their distillery

Covid and delays in refining their product meant they weren’t able to launch to the market until October last year.

But this month their small batch gin won a gold medal at the 2024 London Spirits Competition.

Their product was judged on its quality, value and packaging.

The pair first had to restore an old Victorian coach house at Mr Hackney’s home in Maidstone Road to contain their traditional copper pot-still, which they have named ‘Seiðr’ - an old Norse word for magic.

Their London Dry Gin has now won its first award.

The distillery's emblem is a stag's head
The distillery's emblem is a stag's head

Mr Hackney is a set designer and engineer by trade, while Mr Hall started life as a jeweller in Hatton Garden, but for the last 12 years has been teaching children with learning difficulties in Ashford.

The pair met at The Blue Anchor pub in St Mary Platt nine years ago and found they had similar interests and complementary skills.

They were soon home-brewing ciders and beers together, for their own consumption.

Mr Hall said: “James is very good at everything practical, whereas I am rubbish.

“But I have ADHD and for some reason that made me very good at the very difficult task of applying for a licence to run a distillery.”

The friends' gin is already a prize-winner
The friends' gin is already a prize-winner

“It was great to get a gold medal from the very competition we entered.”

Their London Dry Gin has a 45% alcohol rating, but now they are working on a new variety with a 57% rating, and even have ambitions to produce a rum too.

Mr Hall said: “At the moment we both still have our day jobs, so we only get to work in the distillery in the evening and at weekends, but who knows!

Their first distillation was enough for 700 bottles.

Mr Hackney said: “The launch of our first gin really has been a labour of love.”

We are thrilled with the results

“We were already passionate about brewing and wanted to take this to the next level and start distilling.

“We are thrilled with the results.

“The initial response from customers has been phenomenal and this award win is the icing on the cake.”

To find out more about the Invoke Distillery, visit their website.

The London Spirits Competition is judged by a panel of leading spirits buyers from the industry.

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