Updated: Jun 15, 2020
So..... Hi, and welcome! Now, this probably isn't the best way to start (i'll keep it brief), but I feel like i should start with a caveat of sorts in that I have never written anything for public consumption and would NOT describe myself as even remotely competent at anything other than the most basic East Midlands English, and even that is punctuated by an obscenity every other word. So with an enormous amount of trepidation - where to start? How about an introduction? I’m Matt, and lazydog Distillery is a new venture between my wife Lauren and I. We're an early 30's couple living in semi-rural Leicestershire in the UK and both enjoy craft beers and spirits - one of us significantly more than the other (typical f*cking millennials, right?). We decided in late 2019 that this was a business that we were serious about pursuing following the realisation that that I hated my job and Lauren was coming to the end of her maternity leave and was fretting about the daily grind of work + motherhood. So lazydog Distillery was born.
A little about us - Both Lauren and I are coming in to the distillery business from the construction industry, with absolutely no experience of distilling or selling spirits with the exception of both of us having worked at various supermarkets during our early careers does that count? I doubt it but hope so. We both began our careers as Quantity Surveyors, something which i have continued to do until very recently and Lauren moved on from quite some time ago. So when we describe ourselves as green, i don't think there are many who would disagree! We do however come to this with a dogged determination to make this into a successful business, that we can own and operate together. Then there's the third wheel in this whole situation, the LD in LDD. The company is named after our dog Gino, a Bracco Italiano famed within our family and circle of friends as not only a massive character, but also the laziest creature around. As I pen this for instance he is draped across my feet on the sofa gently snoring to himself - this is where he is most comfortable. Before our daughter arrived he was top dog in our house, and with his character traits, it just felt right to both of us for the company to be named after him.
Yous want to set up a distillery ey?
So, at the turn of the year, we had a nice, box fresh company registered at companies house, a penchant for spirits and cocktails and nothing else.... No clue whatsoever how to move this whole venture forward. Let the reading commence. Google is a fantastic resource. Our google searches from the early days included everything from "setting up a distillery" and "how to make rum" through to "is distilling legal" and everything in between. The general consensus seemed to be that to start a distillery you need a few things - chief among which are
DETERMINATION - the legislation around distilling alcohol is notorious in the UK and can take an age to overcome before you are even permitted to operate a still let alone start selling anything you produce;
DEEP POCKETS - most information gathered from google suggest that £500k is a minimum starting point for a new distillery.
Now, Determination we’ve got in bucketloads, both Lauren and I are fantastically stubborn people, but deep pockets, that’s a very different story. So, to go along with our dogged determination, we’re going to attempt to build this venture with a little under £20k in cold hard cash, whatever grants we can manage to stir up (very little is available at the time of writing) and whatever cash we have left over at the end of each month from our respective day jobs. There wont be any hidden investments from any multinational corporations, or crowdfunded money, just hard earned savings and hopefully some savvy purchasing of apparatus. As you can imagine, on this shoestring budget this is going to be a "humble beginnings" kind of story. We’re going to be starting off slow, working a day job with LDD operating as a side venture in an outbuilding at the bottom of our garden. The still itself will likely be part Chinese import, part locally sourced from an engineering company i have dealt with for motorbike parts in the past. Will it be enough? At this stage we think so, but in reality, there are likely a million things we haven't planned for.
Hopefully, if we can keep this blog going amongst the laundry list of jobs, it'll serve as a good then and now for us, but also a guide for anyone that is thinking of doing something similar.
In the interest of keeping it brief, that'll do. If nothing else, if you have found this and managed to read through to the end, you may not have a new found appreciation for budding Leicestershire based rum distillers, but you may now have a new dog breed to quote when crufts is allowed back on the TV.