When Copper Rivet distillery flung open the doors of Pumphouse No.5 at the tail end of 2016 – unleashing it’s first spirit, Dockyard Gin, upon the world – it did so to rapturous applause, much to the surprise of its founders, Bob Russell and his sons Matthew and Stephen. The distillery’s location had a great deal to do with this welcome: Built in 1873 and operational until 1984, Pumphouse No.5 used to play a big role in the history of Chatham Dockyard. The dockyard itself was a shipbuilding behemoth and was home to the Royal Navy for centuries, seeing England through many wars, from the Napoleonic to the Falklands. When it shut in 1984, Medway was devastated – not only for the loss of jobs, but for the end of an era. The pump house tumbled silently into history, cracking at the edges as it fell victim to time and tides. There it stood for thirty years, with the land around being divided into new residential and historic zones yet never quite reaching its door, until happenstance dropped it right into the lives of the Russell family.
Juniper and grains of paradise rush on the palate, though the experience is aromatic, rather than spiced. Dockyard Gin has a strong citrus stance, with a fresh, zesty lemon at the front and a warm, slightly spiced coriander at the heel. Green, sweet elderflower comes in quickly, supported by sweet, sticky angelica and orris, both of which bring a vanilla hit and real fresh finish.