Meet James, the driving force behind Treguddick.
In the first of our blog series about the people who make English Spirit run like a well-oiled machine, we thought we'd have a chat with James Lawrence to find out a bit more about what he does, and how he ended up at Treguddick.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do at English Spirit.
I'm the GM at Treguddick and I joined English Spirit full time just over 4 years ago. My role was to come on board and run the brand new distillery and visitors centre just outside Launceston in Cornwall. I've picked up a fair few other hats along the way, which has included being involved with project managing the renovations and build itself. I've also been involved with sales and marketing throughout the South West, recruiting staff for the new distillery and even some PR. I've turned my hand to a bit of photography for marketing when necessary.
Like many of the people who work here, I started out as a Spirit Ambassador, back when I lived up in London. This involved going out to lots of events and selling our products, as well as hosting tasting tours at Great Yeldham our distillery in Essex.
You seem to live eat and breathe Treguddick and are obviously very passionate about it, along with English Spirit itself. What's been the highlight of the journey since 2017 when it all began here?
It would be when we opened the doors of the distillery for the very first time. I've been here since day one and got very used to seeing it just as an old barn with just a roof on stilts full of horse poo.
So to take it from that when it was just ideas on paper, through the trials and tribulations we had with getting the project off the ground and the build finished (all when the world was about to enter a pandemic!), to choosing paint colours for walls and finding staff to fill the roles. It's been amazing to see it all come together and I'm really proud of what's been achieved. It had been a dream of so many people for such a long time, so to see it now is just brilliant.
Another standout moment of the last 4 years has to be when Dr John and I went up to Exmoor to meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes when we were working on the project for his rum. Getting to meet him and to hear all of his stories has definitely been just one more perk of working for English Spirit.
And have you had any 'Oh Crap!' moments along the way?
Plenty but not many I'd like to share with everyone!
What's your absolute favourite thing about working for English Spirit?
It's the people, without a doubt. Across the country and throughout the company we are a very diverse group. We have people from all different backgrounds and experiences, but whether they're full time or casual staff we all seem to have one thing in common. We're not only passionate about good food and drink, we all genuinely love people and seeing the joy that our products bring to them. And when you work for a mad scientist, the Willy Wonka of the distilling world as he's become known, you find that he also accumulates a few other bonkers people along the way. So I've ended up working with a really fun bunch of people which I love. It's one of the things that makes this a company like no other and a joy to work at.
What's your favourite part of Treguddick itself?
Well everyone keeps laughing at me because I love every part of this building. I find myself pointing out little things all the time to people, whether that's one of the shades of grey on the walls that we carefully and painstakingly chose or a particular finish on one of the pieces of woodwork. I find it very easy to get excited about all of it really. I'm also very proud of all of the furniture and fittings which we designed and made ourselves.
But my favourite part has to be the domes. We're so lucky to have such a wonderful and weird collection of botanicals in one place, they're fascinating and really sensory. Some of them are quite well known and others people will probably never have heard of. There's nothing else quite like it, and sometimes when I walk into the domes it's like I'm going into them for the first time again.
How do you like to spend your rare days off when you're not at Treguddick?
My perfect day has to be spending time mooching around one of the nice town centres in the morning, either Launceston or Tavistock, and picking up lovely fresh local produce and ingredients for dinner. Then I'll head off for a good old stomp either across the moors or up on the coast path. I really love Dartmoor, it's one of my favourite places to explore. I'm finding new places all the time and have recently found a love of wild swimming. One of my favourite places is the tidal pool at Porthtowan, or up in the sea at Trebarwith Strand which is only about 25 mins away. Up on Dartmoor, it has to the Witches Pool up at Lydford. I'll swim all year round, even braving winter temperatures. I have lots of friends up in London and I'm passionate about showing off Devon and Cornwall to them, so invariably have a house full at the weekend. We'll make cocktails, a good old fashioned Martini (made with Dr J's Gin or Seax Vodka obviously) and just chill out.
And finally, if you were an English Spirit which one would you be, and why?
Ooh hard question! I'd probably be Orpheus, our honey rum liqueur which we brought out last year for Valentines. Being a limited edition small batch liqueur it was quite hard to get hold of, which I can be sometimes as I'm so busy! It's sweet, sultry, with a good bit of base to it and guaranteed to liven any occasion. Am I allowed to say that about myself?