Gin in Kent

History of Gin Production in Kent

Kent has had a long and distinguished history for beer production and is home to Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame, located in Faversham.  The success of the brewing industry was based upon the county being the most productive area for hop farming in the UK.  Hop Picking in Kent 1875, courtesy of the British LibraryThe first hop garden is reported to have been planted near Canterbury in 1520 and by 1878 production in the county peaked at 77,000 acres.  The hundreds of oast houses, built to dry the hops, remain iconic features of the Kentish landscape and serve as a reminder of our proud history.

Whilst production of gin in Kent was over-shadowed by the size of the beer industry it is of historic importance.  A small number of distilleries were operational in the early 1700’s but their products were of poor quality and of little commercial value.  This changed in 1789 when George Bishop opened a distillery for the production of Hollands Gin in Maidstone, the county town of Kent.  He had learned the art of making this high quality spirit by working for several years in a Dutch Genever distillery with the aim of bringing the method back to England. 

Genever was a far superior product to the English gins of the time and the import was in high demand.  However, Excise rules of the day prohibited the manufacture and he petitioned Parliament for new legislation to allow George Bishop to proceed on the basis that it would reduce smuggling as it was produced locally.  Smugglers, George Morland 1793Despite a lot of opposition in the House of Commons he won the debate and the distillery opened in Bank Street.  Maidstone Hollands Gin became very successful and the distillery continued manufacturing until just after the death of the founder in 1819.

Anno is the first artisan micro distillery in Kent and the first to distil gin in the county for nearly 200 years.  We bring together the art of distillation and Kentish hops to produce an outstanding  gin with a unique flavour of Kent.