On 7 November, Matthew Russell, co-founder of Copper Rivet Distillery, will explain how setting up on the Banks of the River Medway in part of the old Chatham Dockyard has fed into the early success of the business.
The family-run distillery, set up with father Bob Russell and brother Stephen, has been ten years in the making. After officially opening doors to the public in 2016, the last 12-months has seen Copper Rivet Distillery quickly gain kudos for its artisanal spirits with handcrafted gin, whisky and vodka.
For the first time, Kent B2B Medway will take part in Steam, Steel and Submarines gallery at the Chatham Historic Dockyards – making Copper Rivet Distillery’s headline slot a natural fit.
The event is part of a series of events put on by Kent Invicta Chamber, and is the longest-running business expo in the county.
Copper Rivet Distillery use their commitment to traceability as their biggest USP – they produce spirits from grain to glass, unlike a huge percentage of brands and craft spirits that are made from industrial alcohol and then simply re-processed.
The team replicate and re-invent a proud tradition, producing the spirits from scratch in bespoke stills with the same skill that local craftsmen once fashioned world-class ships.
Medway has played a large part in their story and their home has helped differentiate Copper Rivet Distillery in a busy market – former Pumphouse No. 5. at Chatham Dockyard a landmark in its own right. Through years of planning and restoration, the team brought the Grade II listed Victorian building which was used to pump water out of the dry docks, back into use.
Their commitment to the dockyard has seen them play a proud part in Chatham’s wider regeneration story.
Commenting on Kent B2B Medway, Matthew Russell said, “I’m looking forward to speaking at the event, especially as it is in Medway. Copper Rivet Distillery has a proud sense of place and is built on local trading, from the farmers that grow our grain to a local copper smith that built our bespoke stills. We have great produce, manufacturing skills and businesses knowhow here in Medway and if we work together we can make something great.
He added: This is a B2B event and that’s what we’re here to talk about, how to work together to support each others success stories.”
“The talk won’t focus on the ins and outs of the spirits industry, but on business strategy and how as a business you have to use your assets – your location, resources and and skills - to become a success. Chatham Maritime and the dockyard has an incredible heritage of craftsmanship, industry and innovation and that’s central to our brand.”
With 20 years’ experience in the spirts industry, Matthew Russell has worked with world-leading alcohol brands. His long-held ambition to launch a brand was re-enforced after studying an Executive MBA in Wine and Spirits. The international course saw Mathew gain perspective of the global industry – with visits to wineries and distilleries in Europe, Australia, Chile, North America and Japan.
As well as producing artisan spirits, Copper Rivet Distillery is becoming a popular tourism destination in Kent – something that wasn’t in the original plan. Initially forecasting for about 15 to 30 visitors per week, the demand has grown rapidly and now the team host 10 tours a week taking about 200 visitors around the distillery.
“My key advice is when setting up any new business is plan, plan and plan some more and then be prepared to adapt the plan. After receiving overwhelming interest in distillery tours, we revisited our strategy, invested more resource into the tourism side of our business and adjusted distilling schedule” explained Matthew.
Reflecting on the unique character of the Kent business community, he added,
“We’ve always been outward-looking, with pride and ability. We’ve always integrated global influences with great traditions of agriculture and craftsmanship. Kent’s almost like an island – because of that we have a lot come through and have learned to adapt and blend assets. I look forward to connecting with Kent’s top businesspeople at the expo.”
Now in its 31st year, this is the first time the expo will come to the heart of the Medway towns. The event will be opened by Luke Quilter, CEO of digital agency Sleeping Giant Media. He’ll share his entrepreneurship journey with delegates - from a humble SEO start-up operating from his dining room, evolving into a multi-award winning agency.
As well as attending talks and workshops, delegates will explore an exhibition zones throughout the iconic venue, which will showcase the best businesses in Kent. The event is open 8.30am to 4pm and is free for delegates to attend.
Pictured: Matthew Russell Copper Rivet Distillery