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The best craft gin distilleries in the South East

By Steve Charnock
1 June 2022

Gin has seen an incredible resurgence over the past decade or so. Not since its inception in the Netherlands in the 17th century or London's 'Gin Craze' a century later has the spirit been so popular.

Many industry experts expected the fad to be rather short-lived. And while other top shelf drinks have also experienced miniature revivals, gin doesn't seem to be be slipping from vogue any time soon.

British tipple fans are all familiar with the offerings from the likes of Gordon's, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater and Tanqueray. And many of us will recognise bottles of Sipsmith, Hendrick's, Opihr, Aviation, Monkey 47 or Martin Miller gins from our local supermarket, pub or bar.

Yet as our adoration of gin has been rediscovered, a new love has also blossomed. That of craft gins. Smaller distilleries have popped up all across the country, producing fresh and exciting new takes on the stuff. Batches of artisanal gins that stand out from the big producers.

The South East, of course, is very active in the market. Here are some of the region's best craft gin distilleries...

Anno Distillers - Marden, Maidstone

When they first set up their stills back in 2011, Anno became Kent's first gin producers in over two centuries. Their artisanal gins rely on traditional distilling methods, all improved with modern technology, and have won several industry awards.

They're producers of the world's strongest gin and offer pleasing day trip tours, so fans of their gins can see just how they make their top quality handcrafted spirits.

The Maidstone Distillery - Maidstone

While many modern breweries and distilleries are found in either quaint but hard-to-reach countryside villages or unattractive industrial estates, this place is right in the heart of Maidstone town centre. And all in a lovingly-restored old distillery too.

Traditional distilling techniques are employed using the firm's enormous 450 litre copper pot still. Tours can be booked, samples enjoyed and gifts/souvenirs/drinks cabinet treasures purchased from the distillery shop.

The Portsmouth Distillery - Portsmouth

Gin by the sea sounds like an appealing prospect, doesn't it? Found in Portsmouth's historic Port Cumberland at Eastney Point (at the entrance to Langstone Harbour), this premium artisan spirit producer also makes rum. But it's the gin they're famous for. So impressive is their Fort Gin product that local Waitroses in the area stock it.

The Gin Kitchen - Dorking

A short drive (or taxi ride if you're sampling the goods) from both Guildford and Dorking, you'll find The Gin Kitchen. A luxury spirits producer with its own cocktail bar, this award-winning distiller only produces batches of 30 bottles at a time. So their 'artisanal' credentials check out.

The Oxford Artisan - Oxford

'TOAD', as it's known to some, isn't just one of the UK's finest craft gin producers. It's also one of the highest-ranked 'things to do in Oxford', according to contributors at TripAdvisor. Their fascinating distillery tour, complete with multiple G&T samples, is a huge hit with locals and tourists alike.

It's the ancient city's first gin distillery, one which is found in Oxford's South Park. It's USP? The Oxford Artisan Distillery 'uses ancient populations of heritage grains' to create their spirits.

Gorilla Spirits - Basingstoke

Found in the pretty Hampshire village of Upton Grey (just outside Basingstoke), Gorilla Spirits make award-winning small batch gins to enjoy at home or in cocktails in their cocktail-making classes at the distillery. The tour zips past in two hours and leaves you pretty thirsty. Luckily, there's more than enough gin-based cocktails on hand to help with that.

Silent Pool Gin - Surrey Hills

The Surrey Hills are an officially-designated Area of Natural Beauty. While the small part of them that houses the Silent Pool Gin distillery is an unofficially-designated Area of Natural Gin Beauty.

Found in the Duke of Northumberland's beautiful Albury Estate, the spring-fed Silent Pool lake is the perfect spot for this distillery which creates some of the most fragrant and yet natural-tasting gins around. Rich in botanicals and with a distinctively floral aroma, Silent Pool's gins might just be unrivalled.

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