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Kent Spirit of the Year Finalist: The Maidstone Distillery

We have lovingly restored our distillery in the heart of our town. It is set in a beautiful building where the local community can learn about our rich legacy. We wanted a place where people can see our spirits being made first-hand and experience the art of distilling in a fun and exciting way.

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We have lovingly restored our distillery in the heart of our town. It is set in a beautiful building where the local community can learn about our rich legacy. We wanted a place where people can see our spirits being made first-hand and experience the art of distilling in a fun and exciting way.

We have dreamt of this place, where people can relax and enjoy a drink in modern surroundings while still engaging with the rich history of the building and brand. We have a great team behind us, exciting new products, plenty of innovative, fresh ideas and ambition. Our spirits are handmade by real people on-site; our bottling and labelling is all done by hand. We don’t outsource anything - all distilling storage and production takes place in the same venue where we welcome our customers. A family-run business, set up by husband-and-wife team Sam and Darren Graves.

Maidstone Distillery welcomes visitors through the doors on tours and experiences such as our Guided Gin Making, and we also operate a small shop. But we are a manufacturing business, too, proudly making spirit from the finest English grain neutral spirit and we operate the whole process from distillation to bottling, labelling and boxing all on-site.

This brings us into contact naturally with a lot of raw ingredients and we have been mindful from day one of our impact on the environment and strive at each step to make decisions that are environmentally sustainable. Here are some of the steps we have taken to do our bit for the environment:

• We have forged an exciting partnership with UK conservation charity Plantlife and have created a contemporary gin distilled with wild and sustainably foraged botanicals from Plantlife’s flagship nature reserve near Cuxton, Kent. We donate more than 2.5% from the sales of Ranscombe Wild Small Batch Gin to Plantlife to help it continue its important conservation work: plantlife.org.uk/uk

• All of our fine spirits are packed using the innovative Flexi-Hex plastic-free packaging. This remarkably robust solution is made from recycled paper and is fully recyclable again at the end of use. What’s more, we can also proudly state that we do not use plastic-based tapes, polystyrene or shrink wrap in any of our packaging – even our bottle labels are made from paper! Our glass is made in the UK, supporting the national economy and reducing carbon through transport from overseas.

• We are proud to declare that Maidstone Distillery runs on 100% green energy. It may be more expensive, but we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations to the absolute minimum. All of our distillery equipment is modern and energy-efficient right down to light fittings which are energy-efficient LEDs.

We have a very popular bottle-refill system at the distillery, which is located in the town centre. Here, customers can bring their empty bottles and stoppers to refill them, preventing them going to potential landfill, saving carbon and also saving the customer some money in the process!