Gintern Visits: Turncoat Gin
I recently visited Liverpool to catch up with Terry, the brains behind Turncoat Gin. As they’re moving premises, I was unable to visit the distillery but watch this space as I’ll be visiting their new digs soon!
A newbie on the gin scene, Turncoat launched its first gin in June this year. Whilst catching up with Terry he explains “we wanted to launch a gin that had technical rules to its production. As this was our flagship gin, we aimed for a summery gin that was very smooth and easy to drink. We wanted it to be interesting enough to be unique, but also very palatable”.
Turncoat, a London Dry gin, has 11 botanicals, including lemon grass, a particular type of pepper Terry keeps secret, and also unusually Black Walnut Leaf from the U.S; a rather unusual botanical, Turncoat are unaware of this botanical being used in any other gin. The result is a slightly spicy or nutty finish to the gin, depending on your palette.
Terry talks of his past, part of the craft brewery movement in the UK back in 2010 when he set up Liverpool Craft Beer Co. and after moving on in 2016 looking for new challenges, having recently spent time in Brewdog, Ellon and seen their amazing Lone Wolf Distillery, Terry decided to start re-skilling as a distiller. Hence the name Turncoat!
The distillery has branded itself around the traditions of understated Britishness, predominantly harking back to Cold War imagery. As Terry set the distillery up in secret and considered himself a Turncoat, this ended up in the branding with redacted imagery and passport-esque labels! He tells me that it’s been a lot of fun getting the branding right and being a bit weird about it. If you check out their website you’ll see what I mean – it’s super quirky!
In July their second gin was launched. This as a tribute to the Cascade Hop. Having been brewing with Cascade Hops for 8 years and created the successful Love Lane Pale Ale for Liverpool Craft Beer, Terry wanted to experiment with it as a botanical in gin. The Cascade Hop is a bit of a Turncoat itself, being an American Hop with British ancestry, it started the craft beer revolution in the U.S – a very Turncoat hop!
Rather than steep the hops in the final gin, Turncoat ensures the delicate oils are stripped from the leaves using a Carter Head type Aromatic Basket. This vapour method ensures only the citrus oils are transported to the spirit, and not the bitter or vegetal flavours that can appear when boiling.
Turncoat has recently purchased a new still and intends to purchase another larger one within the year to keep up with growth. Terry is keen to keep the distillery a hands-on, small batch project. Maintaining quality, authenticity and being proud of the spirits is their primary goal. The principles of the distillery business ethics are that growth is a result of quality, not a driver of it.
The distillery has a small range of Aromatic Bitters including a House Bitters (which also uses Black Walnut Leaf), Orange Bitters using Seville Oranges and a new soon to be launched Coffee Bitters which is a collusion with Has Bean Coffee.
A small team, made up of Terry and wife Jo, who look after production and admin, and Amy who is customer focused, they are very much loving the spirits scene in the UK and particularly the explosion of small batch gin producers. Terry believes this explosion will continue to thrive as did craft beer and that this is just the beginning of a craft spirits revolution in the UK. As a small producer, Terry is looking forward to being versatile, capable of taking risks, and focusing on quality and innovation.
Gintern’s Perfect Serve
50ml Turncoat Gin
Blackberries and Juniper berries
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