Under an hour from London lies historic Chatham and nestled against the River Medway is the beautiful Rivet Distillery.
A destination point in itself, guests can enjoy an hour’s tour of the distillery ahead of a tasting, trying their range of English spirits. Prioritising distillation over casks to create flavour, they make smooth grain whiskies, a 4-grain vodka and a cool neutral grain spirit called ‘Son of a Gun’.
They even create gins including one made by macerating the same whole Kentish strawberries used at Wimbledon. Their locally produced “farm to glass” philosophy is carried through to the Pumproom restaurant and bar, a vaulted cathedral of red brick, ironmongery and green hanging plants flooded with beautiful waterside light. Chef William Freeman is only 26 but his original, interesting menu speaks to years of experience. I started with the bone marrow fondue, a creamy, rich, flavourful dish bedecked with pickled cockles, smoked eels and chicken crackling. It should not work, but it does. Dunking toast into this velvety bowl of delight I can honestly say I have never had a dish like it, in the best possible sense.
This was followed by tender medallions of pink venison from a local farm, served alongside a comforting miniature suet pudding filled with more dense deer, the depth highlighted by sassy punches of sauerkraut and a side dish of smoked beetroot. We washed down our fascinating lunch with glasses of Westwell Ortega 2018, another local producer.
England does Ortega so well, but it is rare to find this delicious grape on many wine lists so take advantage where you can.
This summer they will be opening their large terrace with an open firepit serving up small plates of hearty tapas and cocktails in the river-side sunshine. A perfect place to while away an afternoon with friends.