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Jazz Shapers

Shaper: Tom Warner

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Welcome to the Jazz Shapers Podcast from Mishcon de Reya. What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however the music has been cut or shortened due to rights issues.

Welcome to Jazz Shapers; it’s where the Shapers of Business meet the Shapers of Jazz, Soul and Blues. I am Elliot Moss and my guest today is Tom Warner; Co-founder and Director of Warner’s, the award-winning, farm-grown gin brand. After growing up on a cattle farm and starting at an agricultural college, Tom took on jobs running a coffee buying operation in East Africa and then in the UK with Fresca, the produce importer but his dream to return to his family farm took hold. As he says, “We originally planned to use the two hectares to grow botanicals for essential oils. Then we thought we could make booze, that’s way more exciting.” I am very excited to talk Tom, any man that’s thinking like that is my kind of man. Tom’s wife, Tina, came from a family of potato farmers who have since the successful Keogh’s crisp brand out of Ireland, and with Tina and their friend, Sion Edwards, they Co-founded Warner Edwards in 2012; Sion stepping down in 2016. “We make gin the authentic way” Tom says, “it’s dirty hands, hard work, full hearts, a deep love of the land and a respect for our community.” The brand continues to push the boundaries of the spirits industry, producing what they call craft gin in high effort, small batches, infused with farm-grown ingredients and no synthetic flavours. We’ll talk to Tom in a couple of minutes about all of this and we’ve also got brilliant music from amongst others Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. That, ladies and gentleman, is today’s Jazz Shapers. Here’s Youngblood Brass Band with Erik Owen.

That was the Youngblood Brass Band with Erik Owen, very good it was too. Tom Warner is my Business Shaper.

Tom Warner
Hello.

Elliot Moss
Hello. I like farmers, they just like immediately, Tom’s here, he’s like he feels like he’s been here for about three weeks.

Tom Warner
Grounded and earthy.

Elliot Moss
Very grounded and earthy. What is it about farmers, seriously? I mean, you married a farmer, or a farmer’s daughter.

Tom Warner
Yeah, married a farmer. I think that’s probably the incest of going to an agricultural college where everybody is from a farm so…

Elliot Moss
Might have something to do with it.

Tom Warner
…yeah exactly. And it’s a way of life, you know, it’s not easy growing up on a farm because you are working from a very early age in climatic conditions so it can be a very snowy early morning and your dad has you out of bed, it’s 4.00 o’clock in the morning and you are having to get sheep out of a field that’s full of very heavy snow and you don’t want the sheep getting trapped in snowdrifts so it’s that kind of stuff you have to deal with from an early age so, you know, you work hard but it’s a rewarding, you know, a wholesome, because you grow in the countryside so, I was blessed in a way, you know, even though you have to do that work, I’ve built so many different treehouses and dens and, you know, played in all the hedgerows around the farm and all that so, it’s a fantastic Enid Blyton/semi-slavery upbringing as a farming child.

Elliot Moss
The semi-slavery bit, I don’t believe you but it’s early mornings isn’t it?

Tom Warner
Yeah, definitely early mornings. Again, it depends on the type of farming that you are doing…

Elliot Moss
Sure.

Tom Warner
…and the seasonality that goes along with that but probably dairy is the worst because that, we weren’t dairy but dairy consistently you are up at, you are milking at 5.00am every day, you have to do that otherwise there’s milk all over your field because the cows are full of milk so you’ve got to get it out of them. So, yeah, farming is, you can’t have a day sick, you can’t put it off. If the work is on, however you are feeling or whatever you are doing, you’ve got to get it done.

Elliot Moss
And was your father and that generation the first of the farming?

Tom Warner
My dad… so, farming has been in my family for generations. The farm that we are at now, my grandfather bought in the ‘50s so I am third generation on that farm. Now, my dad is still running it, he thinks he’s 21 still – he’s a lot older than that, he doesn’t like people to mention how old he is, he still thinks he’s 21 but there’s no fuse there, very proud of what we are doing but can go from proud to explosively angry with us getting in the way at the drop of a sort of hat which is quite a fun work dynamic. I’m the sort of the mediator a lot of the time between the business and Dad and keeping him calm.

Elliot Moss
You’ve got brothers and sisters?

Tom Warner
Yeah, got a brother and he works on the farm a bit but he’s also got his own thing, he’s always been keen at driving, he loves driving any vehicle he can get his hands on so he does a bit of lorry driving etcetera so, it’s all good fun.

Elliot Moss
So, you can’t imagine, here we are in London at the moment at the heart of Jazz FM, the thought of you being in a business like, you know, in an office and all that stuff. Has it ever?

Tom Warner
No, you know, I grew up on the farm, went to agricultural college, you don’t, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, you know, we are still on the journey aren’t we? None of us really do know what we ever want to do. I went to agricultural college, ended up buying coffee in East Africa for a bit, so working with farmers but different parts of the world, came back to the UK and got into produce so, again, working with farmers but all around the world and importing fruit that you can’t grow in the UK so, bananas, pineapples, grapes, citrus fruit etcetera. It’s a great industry full of lots of Gregg Wallace-type characters, barrow boys, you know, broad shoulders, lots of personality and you’ve got to be reverse because the products you are moving, it’s dying, you know you are shipping millions of pounds worth of fruit that’s already and it’s rotting because as soon as you harvest something it is degrading so It’s about slowing that process down as much as possible, moving it as quickly as possible and then the customer you are selling it to are supermarkets in the UK, that’s the volume player, it’s a commodity, they are trained in hostage negotiation so, you’ve got a very stressful customer, you’ve got a very stressful product so you work very hard and sort of, I did that for a decade but three years before leaving, started looking at starting something from… working as hard as we were working but for ourselves, my friend Sion that you mentioned at the start and I, and Tina, Sion’s wife Paola, we were talking about different things that we could do and it was really underpinned with farm diversification and we didn’t wake up and say we are going to start a gin distillery – that’s what everybody has done in the last three years because there’s a gold rush in gin at the moment and bit of a bun fight and I think people should probably really consider hard whether they do want to do that at the moment because there’s a big over supply but when we were looking at this, gin wasn’t the category that it is at the moment and independent distilling wasn’t a thing so, we are looking at probably, I don’t know, thirty or forty different business ideas, you know, we kept churning different idea, fag packet feasibility, size of market, who you can sell it to, profit margins, and one of the penultimate ideas, or THE penultimate idea, was growing floral crops, distilling them to extract the essential oils and then selling the essential oil to the end customer or to perfume manufacturers, soap manufacturers that type of thing, so we are looking at this, we said right you grow the crop, extract the oil, what do you do with the still for the rest of the year, you can make booze. Why are we talking about flowers? Let’s make booze.

Elliot Moss
And we are going to stop right there because that is the beginning of the story of now this £10 million plus business that you’ve got called Warner’s Gin. Stay with me as I have a lovely chat with my friend Tom here – Tom Warner who is the Co-founder of the Warner’s distillery business. It’s time for more music right now, just don’t go anywhere, it’s Nancy Wilson with Ode to Billie Joe.

That was Nancy Wilson, Ode to Billie Joe, which embarrassingly I hadn’t heard and Tom here’s singing along.

Tom Warner
Yeah, great song.

Elliot Moss
Brilliant song. Anyway, Tom, we are talking about gin. You got to the point where you said well, we’re going to grow some oils, we kind of thought we could sell them on to the perfume world or whatever it might be and then we went, let’s make some booze.

Tom Warner
Yeah, we did and I always like to say that alcohol is obviously literally intoxicating but as an industry it is intoxicating and the more you look into it and if you think of it, it’s celebration, it’s getting dressed up, it’s going out with your friends, it’s Saturday nights, it’s staying in relaxing and unwind, it’s a joyful, it’s the thing that’s got us on the dance floor for the last ten thousand years, it’s almost this biblical awesome liquid. So, we start digging into it, we get very excited. First business plan, we were going to distil everything so, rum, whisky, vodka, tequila, brandy, you know, you name it, and then you learn more and we almost had what I like to describe as infantile sort of unbridled ambition because we didn’t know the risks and we didn’t know all of the equipment that you needed so we just approached it as a blank piece of paper…

Elliot Moss
I was going to ask you, it must have been a bit like doing chemistry GCSE or something, I mean you certainly…

Tom Warner
We had to learn a lot, yeah, for sure.

Elliot Moss
…and so when you were doing that, did you, were there lots of people that you had to consult with to ensure that you actually just knew the basics?

Tom Warner
Yeah, for sure. And you’ve got to do all this on the side of day jobs so, it’s evenings and weekends and clandestine phone calls etcetera, visiting distilleries, reading books, talking to anyone that’s got any relevance that you can sort of glean information from. We bought what anyone can buy online and shouldn’t do what we did because they are ornamental stills but you can go and buy these very small, they are alembic stills, the original type of still that came in from the Middle East during the spice trade and that’s how distillation started in Europe but they are called alembic stills and you can get sort of one litre, two litre, three litre versions of these that we were buying vodka and literally herbs and spices from the spice aisle in supermarkets and attempting to make gins and tune into it that way so, that’s how we started at home with a gas hob doing that and probably highly dangerous doing it that way and…

Elliot Moss
Sort of a version of, I can just picture sort of like Breaking Bad.

Tom Warner
…yeah, Breaking Bad. A very middle class Breaking Bad.

Elliot Moss
The Warners are at it, they went to agricultural college and this is what it’s all about.

Tom Warner
Absolutely. So, you tune into it, the liquids you make that way are absolutely horrific but you start to understand and we realised early on that we had to focus, we couldn’t make all those different spirits and actually we weren’t going to be able to make aged spirits because we did this on a shoestring so, it was bootstrapped ourselves, we didn’t have a lot of cash, we were mid-recession, banks aren’t lending, the third time we saw HSBC and we went round all the banks about three or four times each one, the third time we saw HSBC we got a loan for £21,000 back then, everything else was funded out of our pockets, our savings, anything we could beg, borrow and steal from sort of family, but we weren’t going to be able to withstand putting something in a barrel and aging it for three years so, whisky that type of stuff, was off, left us with white spirits, vodka was four times the size of gin so we were looking at vodka but, in my opinion and this could cause outrage in the booze fraternity but quite possibly the most boring spirit you can consume because it has no taste, flavour or aroma so, we use vodka primarily to make soft drinks alcoholic so, in nightclubs late at night by the bucket, we are drinking Vodka Red Bull, Vodka Coke, Vodka Orange etcetera and all we want is the alcohol from it, we are not drinking it because of flavour. Gin, you are creating a recipe, it’s got that soul, you know it’s, it’s I grew up with a mum that was a Home Ec teacher and a farmer’s wife and she loved cooking and she grew herbs in her garden, Tina’s mum is a trained chef and had a cookery school so, all of the foodie love that we have, you know I worked in the produce and food industry all of my career so, flavour, food, variety, you know it’s in us and I like to say that our gin business is inviting the world for drinks and dinner every night with homemade products.

Elliot Moss
And let me just ask you one more thing before we hear from one of our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya. When did you sell your first bottle? What year?

Tom Warner
2012.

Elliot Moss
2012, the very first bottle, when and where was it sold?

Tom Warner
At the distillery. We had the local, Made in Northamptonshire, food group there for their AGM and thirty local food producers, bars and restaurants came and we sold our first bottle on that day. We’d finished bottling at 3.00am the night before and we had big bags under our eyes, it was all big crescendo of getting the wheels turning and, yeah, we were off and running and we sold three hundred bottles before Christmas.

Elliot Moss
I can’t tell you the way he looks, right now, he’s like the proud dad that’s produced the first batch. Stay with me for much more from my Business Shaper, it’s the brilliant Tom Warner. An emotion bomb you said?

Tom Warner
Passion bomb.

Elliot Moss
Passion bomb, not an emotion bomb. Passion bomb, as his team call him and you are hearing why that is. Lot’s more coming up from him but as I said now time for some words of advice for your business from one of our partners at Mishcon de Reya.

You can enjoy our full Jazz Shapers archive and you can indeed listen to this programme again with Tom if you pop Jazz Shapers into iTunes or your preferred podcast platform, or indeed you can ask Alexa to play Jazz Shapers and there you will find many of my recent guests. But back to today, it’s Tom Warner, Co-founder and Director of Warner’s, the award-winning farm-grown gin brand. Went back to those first three hundred bottles, December the 6th, you said 2000 and…

Tom Warner
12.

Elliot Moss
…12. Here we are now, how many bottles to you sell by the year, roughly?

Tom Warner
So, it goes up every year.

Elliot Moss
Just give or take, give me a rough idea?

Tom Warner
Give or take, we are heading on towards a very large number now.

Elliot Moss
That’s the first time you’ve been coy, Tom.

Tom Warner
Yeah, yep.

Elliot Moss
Thousands? Lots?

Tom Warner
Yeah, lots. And the issue, the reason why I am coy is there is a misconception that scale means that you’ve compromised or it’s not craft anymore, and I know that there are brands that we are now bigger than in the UK which are made in a horrific way and pretend to be craft and we know that the context of our business has always been; use the best process, the best ingredients and the best equipment and if you do all of those three things, one, you will get the best liquid but you will also end up with a fantastic narrative behind every product so, doing that we have created a lot of firsts for the category. We launched with a London Dry Gin that we call Harrington Dry which is the name of the village, now one of the most awarded gins on the planet and after we sold three hundred bottles, we were three weeks old, a guy called David T Smith who was sort of a very big influencer in the gin category, fantastic guy, wears a lot of tweed, big beard, likes to wear a monocle so obviously knows what he’s talking about, he was one of the biggest gin bloggers and influencers in the world, and he goes around the world giving talks on gin and judging various competitions, and voted us then as his second greatest gin of all time out of the 405 gins he’d reviewed at that point, we went in at number two. And I said, “David, what’s number one?” and he was like, “well it’s the original Boodles” that hadn’t been made in thirty years so, there’s a relaunch of that brand now but this was, I think it’s made differently now but, so the original Boodles – so technically we were number one, I was like, “this is amazing”, hairs on the back of your neck type stuff, you know we are three weeks old, David T Smith, that probably no one really knew who he was but I used that to get a meeting to get with the Fortnum & Mason’s buyer which was February or March 2013. He spent three… or thirty minutes telling me that we’d missed the gin bubble, it had already happened, we were a bit late to market and I was like, “Okay, yeah, just taste the gin.” He wanted exclusivity for London and I said, “You can’t have exclusivity but if you list it quickly, you’ve got it because we’re not stocked anywhere else so let’s go.” Got it into Fortnum and once you are in Fortnum’s then you phone every shop in the country saying ,“Hi, I’m Tom, I make gin on a farm and Fortnum & Mason stock it.” The difference then to now, we did this when independent distilling wasn’t a thing so, when you phoned an independent wine shop in 2013 and said. “Hi, I make gin on my farm”, it would be a fifteen minute of “What do you mean? Is it safe? Is it legal? This is moonshine. Do the Government know and HMRC?” Now, you start a craft distillery and it’s “Oh yeah, great, local craft distillery. Get it..”

Elliot Moss
Let me ask you though, just a quick question before we go to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Let me ask you, how did you make it taste so good? Just in simple terms, I know you talked about your mum and indeed one of the gins is named after your mum as well, who has sadly passed away a few years ago.

Tom Warner
Yep.

Elliot Moss
So, obviously a big influence on you and your wife’s family as well. But how did you just do it because that sounds like either luck or genius or a bit of both. I mean, it isn’t easy, I love gin but some gins are just not good. How did you know that it was. What to do?

Tom Warner
Luck. I think success turns luck into genius. We experimented a lot around the kitchen table every Saturday for four and a half months and we did that with a thing called distillates so we didn’t have the still yet and we didn’t the cashflow that when the still arrived and we quit our jobs and we started the business to do a huge amount of experimentation so we needed to tune in to that recipe really quickly before the still arrived and we did that with a thing called distillates which are individually distilled botanical flavours that we got from a friend of mine that worked for a flavouring company so, juniper concentrate in alcohol, cardamom concentrate in alcohol. Fifty of them that we blended together and we could use those to work out lots of different recipes very, very quickly, we would try them every Saturday and, you know, hard job but someone’s got to do it, but it was like throwing darts at a dart board and, you know, the more you throw, the closer you get to the bullseye so we tuned in that way just by trial and error of lots of different recipes. Once, we’d got close to our recipe, that was, we knew the strength of those distillates so that, we knew how much sort of organic material that would require in the still and off we went, and we’ve refined since then because we always say “the next batch, is the best batch.”

Elliot Moss
I like the notion of throwing darts at the board because I think that’s basically new product development. We are going to come back to that because I want to talk to you about how you read the market tastes as it were. Time for some more music right now before we go back to more from my Business Shaper today, that’s Tom Warner. It’s Tony Bennett as I billed earlier, and Lady Gaga singing their take of Anything Goes.

Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Anything Goes. Tom Warner is my Business Shaper here on Jazz Shapers and we’ve been talking about trial and error, MPD. In those early years, Tom you did everything, you’ve made that patently clear. There was no way around it, if you weren’t doing it, it wasn’t going to happen – along with the team obviously and the small team now. I went on the website as I always do before I meet people, I just want to get a vibe for the business if there is one. There’s lots of smiling people jumping up and down looking very happy, very healthy. Sort of like you, you know, that lovely complexion that a person that spends a lot of time outdoors has, even if it’s cold and it’s England. How many people in the business now, including the dog?

Tom Warner
Including the dog, 55.

Elliot Moss
54 without the dog.

Tom Warner
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
If you go online, you’ll see the little doggy which is your Chief…

Tom Warner
Leia, Executive Morale Officer.

Elliot Moss
Executive Morale Officer, I knew that it was… great, little Leia, lovely, sweet looking dog. Those people have a hard taskmaster in you even if you are ebullient and fun and all that, you know how you want everything to work. How does that play on a daily basis? How do you temper that, if you will so that you get the best out of them?

Tom Warner
That is something that we’re doing a lot of work on at the moment because the team has exploded so we came into 2019 I think with 27 people in the business so, a year on we’ve doubled in terms of the workforce and my wife and I run the business together, we have very different management styles – mine is a lot looser than hers, let’s say.

Elliot Moss
No.

Tom Warner
Mine’s “Come on, over the top everyone, follow me, let’s go” but also then try and prod everything and get involved where I shouldn’t.

Elliot Moss
What’s Tina’s style then?

Tom Warner
Tina did a decade in private equity, investing in businesses so, her view, like helicopter view structure, process, organisation and actually managing people. I am learning a lot from her. I think we learn a lot from each other. I like to please people and high energy but I am rubbish at having the hard conversations. She is, and she hates it because she ends up doing more of what she classifies as the boring stuff but I classify that as probably the more important business day-to-day stuff, and she’s phenomenal at having those hard conversations that need to be had and the amount of times where, if I could back where things have gone wrong in the business and it’s because we didn’t address an issue there and then because we were probably being a bit too nice, and so a lot of learnings for me there but culture’s really important, I like to say it’s a cult business and I say to every employee when they start on their first day, you know, just remember whatever you throw at this business, it will lap it up, it will leave you crying in a ball on the floor and ask for more so, I always tell them just be careful because it just has the ability to absorb whatever you say.

Elliot Moss
And why is that? Because people just get into it so much and they just want to do the…

Tom Warner
Yeah, it’s the passion, the energy, they want to the do the best I think because Tina and I are such passionate Founders, I think the category that we are in, gin is on fire and it’s exciting and people can get passionate and get behind it, it’s high growth business, people want to, they just get carried away with what we’re doing so, we are doing a lot of work with culture at the moment which is leave it better than you found it, it’s you know, look after your colleagues and support each other and balanced working and there’s a huge amount of work going on in the background.

Elliot Moss
What’s really interesting is now we are talking about this and there’s a different energy. It’s really interesting because you, kind of that passion, there’s obviously because there’s no way that you can run a business like this without having all these different facets but that structure that I can just see now coming through and you are looking at this in a, as you said the helicopter view of Tina but Tina seems to have been, the dynamic must work very well.

Tom Warner
Yep. Oh, it’s phenomenal. The problem, when you work with your wife, is that you are always going to have disagreements at work – when it’s with a work colleague, it’s a non-emotional thing, when it’s with your wife or, you know, any family member that you are dealing with, you are always more horrible to your family members than you ever would be to a, you know, a work colleague or someone in the street so, yeah we try not to fall out in front of the team but just the nature of the business and the pace that we move at, sometimes we are under live fire making decisions and it can get a bit heated but we always get to the right answer because we do have a very complementary skillset and when we do get to decisions, they are very balanced and brilliant for the business.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with my guest today, that’s Tom Warner, one of the parents of the Warner business along with his wife, Tina. Plus we will be playing a track from Miles Davis, that’s all coming up in just a moment.

That was Miles Davis with Freddie Freeloader. I am with Tom Warner for a little bit more, my passion bomb. You strike me, Tom as a very down to earth guy, you’ve been in the agricultural world for your whole life whether it’s been abroad or here in produce, you’re making stuff. Now there’s a real business here, we touched on a bit with structure. Has it changed the way you think about the world? Do you change the way the fact that you are, you know, you are a guy who is outdoors with his hands in the mud and now, suddenly, you are overseeing a pretty significant business?

Tom Warner
Yeah, you’ve got to be responsible, haven’t you? Because you are potentially paying up to fifty mortgages kind of thing so, it does get a lot scarier and the decisions that you have to take as a business you’ve got to… it’s the, you know, we’re in it for the infinite game, that’s what we like to do so we’re not reporting to shareholders, this is about building a brand responsibly and for the future which means we do what we believe to be very responsible and strategic investments in what we are doing and the markets that we are entering. But, yeah, the stakes get higher, don’t they? And the sleepless nights become, well, they change from at the start what you lose sleep over changes to what you lose sleep over as the business starts to evolve.

Elliot Moss
The innovation thing is interesting to me because I think I read somewhere, or listened to you sort of saying, “Listen, we don’t do research, what we do is, we sit together and go is it going to be raspberry? Is it going to be rhubarb? We don’t think about the trend, we might end up setting a trend but that’s not…” Where does that come from? Is it just back to feeling comfortable at the kitchen table going, “We’re going to mix this, we’re going to mix that and see what happens?”

Tom Warner
A hundred percent. Innovation is what has driven the business so, for us as a brand, from the start, you trust your gut and use nature as your inspiration and, you know, we’re farm-born British gin so we use farm-born British flavours and we’ve done a lot of firsts in the category because we didn’t have the blinkers of having previously come from a spirits manufacturer, we did stuff that no one had done before so, the Elderflower Gin, my mum came into the kitchen with a bottle of gin that she’d put fresh elderflower into and this was summer 2012 as we were experimenting with our London Dry and blew our mind that, you know, adding additional botanicals post-distillation to give a really big signature flavour cue in the gin, and capturing farm-grown British hedgerow flavours, so we launched an elderflower gin in summer 2013, pretty much the first, we believe, you know flavoured gin is now…

Elliot Moss
Great combination. Now it’s everywhere. The Adele Cocktail, in honour of your mother, Adele, who died six years ago just now, and I just want to really, it sounds a) it’s lovely that you did this on behalf of your mother, in honour of your mum, but actually it just sounds really tasty – Warner’s Elderflower Gin with Triple Sec, a squeeze of lemon and tonic water, garnished with cucumber and orange.

Tom Warner
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
I’m kind of going, it’s early but… you know is it too early to have…

Tom Warner
Never. It’s always gin o’clock.

Elliot Moss
It’s never too early. Drink responsibly if you are listening now. Please don’t do this at the breakfast table and…

Tom Warner
No more than fourteen units per week.

Elliot Moss
…and definitely not in front of the children. Not before midday. Listen, it’s… I wish you all the luck in the world. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun. You also… there’s a quick thing I want to pick up on before I ask you your song choice. You said ‘infinite’. This sounds like it’s your business in perpetuity?

Tom Warner
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Not interested in selling?

Tom Warner
No. Not really. We’re, we’re… every decision we make, you know, we planted last year 6,000 plants, 750 trees on the farm, that’s for flavour so, as we get bigger, we are becoming even more authentic, you know, some brands would compromise as they scale, we are actually intrenching ourselves because it does two things; it makes our liquids better because we are using fresh botanicals to make them homegrown fresh flavours which other people can’t replicate; it means we are putting less carbon into the atmosphere from importing stuff, we are using homegrown flavours; and also we are creating biodiversity on the farm so it’s this really sexy feedback loop that’s starting to form in the business which is just phenomenal. We wouldn’t be doing that if we were looking to sell because we would be just maximising profits in the short-term to get a better multiple.

Elliot Moss
It does strike me, I mean, you know for years and years, I’ve thought through businesses that responsibility is important and it makes sense and any purpose driven business is apparently 400% more profitable than a non-purpose driven one. The farming community has always understood, the land has got to be looked after, on the whole I mean on smaller farms, bigger farms might get into different things but it’s kind of ironic that it’s come now full circle where everyone is going ‘we must be sustainable’, there you are, you know, you are planting trees, it’s great of course for the environment and you don’t have to do any imports Tom, but it’s just the right thing to do.

Tom Warner
It’s the right thing to do and that’s what makes it so sexy. As I said at the start, when you do everything right, you strip it back, focus on quality, you know, and when you do that best ingredient, best process, best equipment, you just end up with this really powerful narrative behind every product and authenticity is just at the core of everything we do as a business.

Elliot Moss
It’s been great talking to you, Tom and thank you. Good luck and I look forward to coming, in the summer, to the farm…

Tom Warner
Pleasure. We look forward to seeing you.

Elliot Moss
…with the team here. We’re going to come along, we’ve decided, just now. Just before I let you go though, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Tom Warner
So, this is Miriam Makeba and it’s Pata Pata, and we first started hearing, or listening, to Miriam when I worked in East Africa so, nearly twenty years ago, actually, and got into this vibe and it’s just a really happy tune.

Elliot Moss
That was Miriam Makeba with the absolutely brilliant and uplifting Pata Pata. Tom Warner, wow, what are you going to say about him? A passion bomb, a proper, absolutely explosively happy, enthusiastic ball of energy that’s focussed on building this great business. Trust your gut, use nature as your inspiration. I really like that thought in general, not just for a business which is actually predicated on food or on drink. And finally, focus on quality; a critical lesson for anyone in business. That’s it from me and Jazz Shapers, have a super week.

We hope you enjoyed that edition of Jazz Shapers. You will find hundreds of more guests available for you to listen to in our archive. To find out more just search Jazz Shapers in iTunes or your favourite podcast platform or head over to mishcon.com/jazzshapers.

Tom Warner is the Co-Founder and Director of Warner’s, the award-winning, farm-grown gin brand.

Tom’s first professional role was a one-year placement running a coffee buying operation in East Africa. He then took up a sabbatical role as Student Union President at his college, before taking up a position with the largest, privately owned fresh produce importer in the UK, dealing with farmers from all over the world.

With the dream of his family farm always in the back of his mind, Tom decided to return to Falls Farm and in 2012 both Tom and his wife, Tina, decided they wanted to ‘diversify from cattle farming into gin distillation’. Since then Warner’s has gone on to become the UK’s no.1 super-premium gin brand.

Warner’s has received several accolades, including: The UK’s number one super-premium flavoured gin in the on trade (CGA MAT w/e 29.07.19), was ranked 6th in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2018 and is the Best-selling craft gin in Waitrose, Best-selling branded gin in M&S and Best-selling flavoured gin across a number of licensed estates in the UK.

Follow Tom on Twitter @WETomGin.

Interview highlights

With gin, you are creating a recipe. It’s got soul.

I like to say that our gin business is inviting the world for drinks and dinner every night with homemade products. 

The context of our business has always been to use the best process, best ingredients and the best equipment.

I think success turns luck into genius.

I like to please people but I am rubbish at having the hard conversations.

Gin is on fire and it’s exciting.

Look after your colleagues… support each other.

[My wife and I] have a very complementary skillset and when we make decisions, they are very balanced and brilliant for the business.

We’re in it for the infinite game.

What you lose sleep over changes as the business starts to evolve.

Innovation is what has driven the business so, for us as a brand, you trust your gut.

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