AMA: Terry Langton, founder of Turncoat Distillery

Dubbed the 'ginaissance', gin has surged in popularity over the last five or so years. And the UK's obsession with gin is unlikely to disappear any time soon.

Terry Langton is giving the people what they want. He's the founder of Turncoat Distillery, an independent craft gin distillery in Liverpool.

terry-langton

Hi Terry, tell us a bit about your company.

Turncoat is a distillery based in the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool City Centre. I started the distillery in my garage in Liverpool, after selling my brewery (Love Lane Brewery) to investors. Hence the name Turncoat - I used to be a brewer and now I’m a distiller!

Now it makes sense!

Yes! We make a range of gins and vodkas as well as some cocktail bitters. We also have a bar at the Albert Dock which stocks all of our gins as well as 15 beer taps for local craft beers, and we have a huge wood-fired oven for pizzas.  Our bar is themed around Gin Beer Pizza (the food triangle).

How did the idea for Turncoat come about?

I was at Brewdog in Aberdeen on a working 3-day interview and I saw their distillery and thought this was really interesting, I wanted to try something else other than brewing and so I built a still in my garage, got it registered and started trading. We’re stocked in some great places in and around Liverpool.

What motivates you?

It’s important to spend time with the end-user of your product - so I attend markets, festivals and do lots of pop up events that get me in front of people drinking our gin. 

When I get positive feedback confirms that we're doing the right thing - that is motivating stuff to keep standards up.

Photo credit: Colin Lane

How would you best describe your business philosophy?

If you’re going to do something, do it right. There's a difference between shortcuts and efficiency. Whether it's beer, gin or pizzas, I’ve always tried to do it properly with the best ingredients and best processes.

The product you make is an extension of yourself. If you’re in the business of pleasing people with your products - put the time in.

Absolutely. What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

When I owned a brewery with a business partner and friend, I thought we could grow the business on cash flow; that’s incredibly difficult for a capital intensive business. So not borrowing enough early enough for the brewery eventually caught up with us - hence the sale.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

Invest in top half clothing, assume the mute is off and the camera is on - always.  Also as a consultant, I worked from home doing Skype and GoTo meetings for years. 

It can help if you leave the house for a 5-minute walk before you start work (like walking to work) and then do the same at the end of the day at a set time (like walking home from work). 

It really helps work not drift on into the night and gives you a clean start and a clean break. I could end up still in my pyjamas on a laptop at 5 o'clock before I started doing that.

Sound advice. How do you keep your team aligned?

I make sure everyone knows the goals. I try very hard not to nitpick at things and hate micromanaging. My role is around quality and the brand, so I try to stick to that topic rather than poking my nose in their skill area.

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Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? 

We don’t. We just try to pay people as much as we can.

Do you have any pets?

I don’t! I can’t even look after my Basil plant...

Plant parenthood is tough. And finally Terry, what does a Friday night look like to you?

My kids come and stay with me at weekends which is great - I get to watch them stare at their phones for two days whilst trying to get their attention and convince them I’m cool.

One day you won't have to convince them, they'll just know! Thanks for your time Terry.