Not another gin??!
You might not have heard of Maiden Distillery or Maiden gins. To be fair, the distillery is tiny and is run by one lady single-handedly, so big publicity campaigns aren't possible. You may be surprised to learn that the distillery is in fact coming into its fifth year of operation. It's located in the heart of Maidstone and has been up and running since April of 2015 (the 1st of April 2015 to be precise!). An unusual day to start perhaps? Since its inception, Maiden was created for one main goal - to resurrect an old, local industry by bringing distilling back to the very heart of Maidstone.
There have been several distilleries within a stone’s throw of Maiden, notably that of Mr George Bishop in 1770. Maiden Distillery itself is housed in a former brewery which also became home to George Bishop's nephew, Argles Bishop's gin/genever distillery back in the early 1800s so the roots of Maiden spirit production are steeped in Maidstone's gin history.
After delving deep into the brewing and distilling heritage which runs through the veins of Maidstone, Helen (Maiden's owner and distiller) became aware that the local gin/genever of Maidstone (produced by the Bishop family) was once so respected that it enjoyed national acclaim. Because of this Helen was keen to build on this heritage and produce a spirit which followed the same principles as the original, and Helen is extremely proud to be bringing some of this heritage back to life.
During her research Helen also discovered several recipes dating back to the 1790s and is excited to be using these to produce several of her blends. Maiden gins are made by hand, by Helen, using her lovely little copper pot still. The still is named Arwen (nothing to do with Lord of the Rings, more about 'Awen' but with a slightly different spelling!) (Click here for more information on the history of distilling in Maidstone.)
The distillery now produces four core expressions with a number of limited edition spirits also available.
About the gin, distillery and distiller…
The gin is fresh and bright, bursting with flavour, some might say it's slightly sweeter than some London Dry’s. Our gin isn’t Old Tom in style as no sugar is added after distillation, any sweetness comes directly from the sweet botanicals which are added to the still, namely marshmallow root and meadowsweet. This sweetness, along with zingy cardamom and coriander and the bright, piny flavours of juniper give our gin a lovely complex, yet rounded, flavour. Pure spring water is used to dilute our gin down to bottling strength. The gin makes a great Tom Collins, an exquisite French 75 and a rather delicious Negroni. A number of other spirits are made at the distillery. Please see our Products page for more information.
The Distillery: Everything at the distillery is on a small scale. Helen currently only produces around 65 - 70 bottles per run with each batch being bottled and labelled on site by hand. Local deliveries are sometimes made by boat – keep a look-out for Helen in her kayak on the Medway during the summer months. You may also see Helen dashing around on her push along scooter with a backpack full of gin! National deliveries are made by slightly speedier means. If you’re coming to the distillery don’t forget to give a nod to Gaspard, our little aos sí who keeps watch over the distillery – attention, he sometimes plays tricks if you ignore him!
And on to Helen… Having lived in many UK towns and cities and also in Ireland, Belgium and France Helen has had the good fortune to sample some world-renowned drinks, from Guinness to Cognac, Trappiste beers to eaux-de-vie. Originally working as a sound engineer on major West End and touring productions, Helen has also enjoyed her fair share of first night parties and the flowing libations that came with them. Helen has also worked as a teacher, ski instructor and in international customer relations. She likes to think of her career as being of portfolio type rather than that she’s a Jack of all trades. Every experience has its use – do, learn and progress. After all, Slumdog Millionaire didn’t do too badly from his past experiences, did he?! During the four years before opening Maiden Distillery Helen created gin and vodka infusions, serving these in cocktails from her travelling bar at festivals and concerts.
at The Old Brewery