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Medway's Copper Rivet Distillery opened by Princess Anne at Chatham Dockyard

By Amy Nickalls

Princess Anne enjoyed a little tipple and a grand tour at the launch of Medway's very own gin distillery.

Copper Rivet has reached many milestones over the last 12 months leading up to the offical opening today.

Based in Pump No.5 at Chatham Dockyard, the family run company produce Dockyard Gin, Vela Vodka and Son of a Gun – an unaged grain spirit with a whisky flavour profile, which has been designed especially for use in cocktails - with Masthouse Whisky due to be ready in 2020.

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Princess Anne sampling the whiskey during her grand tour. Credit: Gary Browne
Princess Anne sampling the whiskey during her grand tour. Credit: Gary Browne

Her Royal Highness was given a grand tour by the Russell family and an early taste of the whiskey currently ageing in a barrel.

Matthew Russell, co-founder of the distillery, said: "It's a really exciting day. It's a true honour to have her come so we’re very excited.

"It’s a real landmark. We’ve been working for a year and to be recognised with an official visit from the royal household is an honour.

Matthew and Bob Russel showing Her Royal Highness around the distillery.
Matthew and Bob Russel showing Her Royal Highness around the distillery.

"We do things a little bit differently from virtually every other distillery.

"We produce our own spirit from grain to glass. We work with farmers on the Isle of Sheppey who grow the three grains we use.

"All of them come from that farm which we then process through the distillery to make the drinks."

The company has already achieved a lot in the first 12 months. The Dockyard Gin was used at the naming ceremony of HMS Medway and Vela Vodka won double gold at the 17th San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Abhi Naik, head distiller, and Bob Russell, co-founder, with Princess Anne Credit: Gary Browne
Abhi Naik, head distiller, and Bob Russell, co-founder, with Princess Anne Credit: Gary Browne

Mr Russell continued: "It’s been an amazing first year.

"We’re working on increasing production all the time and demand is growing, we produce enough to satisfy our customers at the moment.

"We’re extremely excited for the future and we hope everyone in Kent is too."

Princess Anne unveiled a plaque to officially open the business and was presented flowers by some of the employees' children.

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