Published: 18:00, 20 July 2015
Medway is set to join the craft distillery revolution as plans to transform a former pumping house move forward.
Russell Distillers want to turn Pump House No.5 at Chatham Maritime into Kent’s first distillery producing a range of spirits - premium vodka, gin and whisky. The alcohol it produces will be sold in the UK and exported abroad.
The former boiler room is a Grade II listed Victorian building which was used to pump water out of the dry docks. Now planning permission has been granted, it will become one of the last naval dockyard buildings to be brought back to use.
Dalia Halpern-Matthews, chief executive of the Chatham Maritime Trust, said: “I think it will be a fantastic addition to the area, it’s great such a beautiful building will come back into full use.
“It’s been really well planned, and it’s a fantastic idea. I think it will bring a lot to the local economy and be fantastic not just for the people who live and work in Chatham Maritime, but for the whole area.”
The distillery will create eight full-time and four part-time jobs, and is supported by the Thames Gateway Innovation, Growth and Enterprise (Tiger), a government scheme which provides cheap loans to local businesses.
It is expected to process three tonnes of malt a week, producing 10,471 cases of alcohol. With 12 bottles per case, this is the equivalent of 125,652 70cl bottles per year. At 40% strength, the main product will be premium vodka, followed by gin and then whisky being the lowest volume produced.
Chairman of Medway Licensed Victuallers Association, John Brice, said: “The range of gins on the market at the moment is amazing and it will be great for local pubs to be able to stock local spirits alongside the local beers, wines and ciders now produced in Kent.”
The malt will be locally sourced and the equipment will also be produced near by.
Maiden Distillery in Maidstone only produces gin, meaning the proposed dockyard distillery would be the first in Kent to produce a variety of spirits.
Russell also plans to open up a visitor centre at the distillery.