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Markus Kypreos - Founder of Blackland Distillery

Markus Kypreos

Founder, Blackland Distillery

Markus Kypreos, founder of Blackland Distillery, tends the Fortitude bar. This former attorney, turned chef, turned sommelier, and now distiller, Markus, a local, shares how he created one of FW’s fastest growing brands. Looking for a great time, Blackland Distillery reigns as one of city’s coolest bars, best distillery’s, and best date spots. A fantastic look into the world of alcohol from a hellava cool guy. He even lets us try the juice. Cheers!

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Episode Transcription: 

welcome back to fortitude everyone JW Brenton you’ve probably seen him before
a couple times we got one of our buddies here in studio the captex bank Studio thank you Marcus kiprios for joining us
uh on Set uh we are big fans of this guy we’ve known him a few few years at least
yeah and he was nice enough to bring some booze our good sponsor uh Mike
Thomas loves we do booze segments so Mike Thomas hope you appreciate this guy because I’m sure you do captains all
this heck of a businessman makes a heck of a product but look at all of it I mean it’s like uh it’s surprised
racially allowed us to have some on set so thank you Marcus we’re honored to have you in our presence it would be it
would be rude of me to not bring alcohol everyone really expects it wherever I go uh and I try to bring alcohol everywhere
um except when I’m like you know on in those places like school or church or
things of that nature but yes do you I mean I’m guessing you drink on a regular basis but as your drinking become more
so prominent than women maybe in Pre in your previous life no I I really try and
watch it just because of how often I’m at events or festivals or at The
Distillery or away from The Distillery it’s always it’s it’s the job is all the time right it’s 24 7. so I’m really
careful with it and um it’s I think I actually drink less now
right do you did you like set up a big boundary and going into it like that like did you kind of have an idea from
coming from the food background like you got to be real careful with this you know type of Deal or where you just are
you just good like that uh no I didn’t have the the plan but when I started you know tasting barrels at 9am that were
120 proof I was like okay we’re gonna have to set some boundaries here what’s a b word you just said about I
don’t I’m not familiar remember I mentioned that off air to you before well anyway uh Marcus we we all went to
Trinity Valley that’s where we first got to know him he’s a year younger than myself and a few years younger than Britain Britain we won’t uh name exactly
how many years that is but thank you uh the guy if you don’t know who he is you probably haven’t been paying much attention but he’s obviously done really
really well with Blackland Distillery it’s a it’s a hell of an operation but before we get into that Marcus a
graduate he’s a fourth native obviously but a graduate of The Culinary School Fort Worth which is a really cool thing
he’s also a sommelier he’s also uh he went he was an attorney for 15 years
which begs a lot of questions I assume you had some some large successes in the in the law practice why
would one leave the law practice to accomplish this what what got in what what change or how did the sequence of
events happen uh you know people ask me all the time and I always say it wasn’t that I didn’t
dislike law I liked being a lawyer it was I was a trial attorney so it was incredibly stressful right but I still
enjoyed it and I had the temperament for it I’ve just always had a passion for food and wine which was sort of the path
that got me here every distiller is different if you go talk to a Distillery owner there’s no
um one way to get there because there’s no major for distilling in college yeah right and you see a lot of scientists
you see some lawyers you see a lot of Brewers who have gone into distilling there’s no right way but it just got me
there because when I went to culinary school and then I found wine and part of the sommelier exam is distilled spirits
and then I went to some schools to learn how to make it I saw it was very much like cooking because that’s how we make
alcohol to start we take grain and we cook it and it was just a natural flow for me and I said let’s uh let’s
approach it from that point of view and just built the Distillery that way and we try and do a lot of different things
comparatively to other places right we have a lot of differentiators what was the C sequence for you Marx was it was
it law school attorney then then culinary school yeah I went to culinary school I was practicing okay like I went
at night okay yeah so I graduated from the culinary school of Fort Worth in 2010. okay was is that still there
wasn’t it above uh like La Madeleine and yeah it was no no they’ve moved farther down towards the circle okay uh and then
but we still work with them we still do a lot with them yeah I still love that place I always tell people of all the
schools I’ve gone to everyone at some point should go to culinary school just for um general knowledge you eat three times
a day or however many you eat now and it just opened my eyes to A Whole New World did you do that because you enjoyed
cooking before or because you were just like man we need some better meals around the house no I I did it because
my growing up my mom worked for American Airlines and so we would use those like D2 passes to fly standby and we always
traveled around food so we would go to New York and we would go to Napa and we would go to these places is and I really
fell in love with some amazing food and just became sort of a foodie yeah but never did anything with it I thought
you’re gonna say like we got this all the airplane food like my mom would bring in home but she would bring the
trains and they were just so delicious the way that they had the the meals and no
no no props to American Airlines local code before we get into Blackland tell us a
little bit about the sommelier life well I’ve read I know your background but for those who don’t I mean that’s a really
interesting world because it’s so rare for people to have that designation but you obviously accomplished that you and
and you’ve obviously that’s transitioned into other things in your life but the sommelier part of your life please give
us a little bit of in inkling of that so yeah so after I graduated from culinary school that was just sort of the natural
next step for me because you do so much food and wine pairing right and so it was about a year of just independent
study for me because all you’re really doing is going to sit for the exam and you take some courses and things but um
it was a lot of knowledge right I mean not I would say after the bar exam that was the second most difficult test I’ve
taken just in terms of all of the regions and grapes and varietal in everything right
um and I really did like wine and I was getting into it and I and there I have strong opinions about it but
um after I did that I immediately jumped to distilling and and in that vein and I
don’t think I’ve drank wine for like four years now just because I’m just so focused on this right well did it is was
it also easier because you know you’re like man I’d have to go get a Vineyard like if I wanted to produce it myself I
could I would have to do all these things rather than distilling it’s like I could do this right here at home yeah
and I I think there’s an opportunity for distilling or at least I saw it when I started compared to other things there’s
so many breweries that’s so complicated to me yeah and there’s so many wineries in California in particular yeah and I
just think it’s very hard to make wine here right in the climate that we are with the grapes that we have so that was
like two months of 100 degree heaters right yes but there is a there is a Vineyard in every state in the U.S
strangely even I know but Texas wine is not like what it’s real sweet isn’t it
or something they have a couple that are good I mean we’ve had them I know you know more than me but yeah definitely some here in Texas that can hold their
own here in the Metroplex there’s a metroplex South Texas and Austin way maybe yeah I
mean I’ve heard people say that um I think you did the right thing yeah I think people who bring grapes
over from say France or um South America and blend yeah that I I
you can do here and I think a lot more people are doing it right I’ve yet to taste anything that um
people have grown here in Texas and fermented and put in a barrel and yeah so where does the name blacklin it’s got
such like uh an evil like it’s like it kind of makes me think like Johnny Depp like pirate kind of movie is it am I
going the wrong way there or is that what you intended for that oh no not at all but I like it yeah
yeah yeah no no but I mean you grew up here I grew up here we all grew up here
oh we there are seven Eco regions in Texas we live in the Blackland Prairie which runs north of Fort Worth down to
San Antonio I didn’t even know that until later and it got its name because hundreds of years ago the there were wildfires that caused the soil to be
black and charred and gray right and so I liked the geographical connotation because we age whiskey and charred
barrels but I also like that it didn’t necessarily say Texas because what we’re doing here is not
um Wild West Cowboy per se right we’re trying we always say to elevate craft a little bit more sophisticated and as
great as TX has done and they caught fire and killed it um you know that as they become a
national brand they’ve had problem I know a little bit of trouble like trying to go to Minnesota because to someone in
Minnesota really care about drinking TX whiskey or Texas whiskey right right
it’s good um but I thought black land could be ubiquitous and just everywhere and not
have necessarily a geographical connotation for those that didn’t know it it’s just oh I like that black man bourbon yeah yeah what’s your reach now
with black land uh we are in uh nine states and then uh the UK oh wow very
nice is UK is it popular there very except we only um distribute the pecan the Texas Pecan
brown sugar Bourbon and the bourbon there so can you just do like a quick just like when you talk about the Texas
Pecan and brown sugar yeah what’s you putting that stuff in the barrel with like how’s that work no uh that’s what I
call a flavored or sugar whiskey it’s polarizing it’s divisive
um a good adjective that’s why he didn’t name it TX whiskey
because he was worried about what would happen politically with other people I’m not buying that DX with sorry I guess I
can’t be saying that yeah you can’t Britain so please let her guess whatever whatever you think about Texas good or
bad it has a distinct um following and knowledge base around the world right and so that really grabs
and so for instance on that one the Texas Pecan brown sugar bourbon
um we that’s what the last Spirit we made it is our number one seller it’s not even close the irony of course is that
it’s my least favorite of the five that we make in terms because it is sweet but it’s good right and the reason I made
that is because I would go into liquor stores and I would watch people buy screwball and Fireball and Crown apple and I said okay well if the world wants
sugar whiskey then let’s make a good sugar whiskey yeah and just like we’re trying to do with everything else we’re
trying to elevate that and I was we were you know it’s funny you bring that up because I was just talking hold on Marcus it’s Britain time I was talking
to a guy about because it’s I have a direct connotation like a direct thing
to this we were talking about like back in the day when what kind of cigarettes do you smoke you know it’s like Marlboro
Lights and it’s like oh that’s for babies you know and now guys or like big grown men are going in give me the
watermelon pumpkin spice Jewel I’ll take a couple cartridges of that you know I mean it’s just like we’re in this fruit
infused we are world and and everybody likes the sweeter stuff they sell like Swisher Sweets or grape flavor like
grape flavored cigars I think that’s kind of odd too we do like our flavors no doubt and sugar I mean Fireball is
the number three selling Whiskey in the world seriously yeah so we can make fun of that guy but he’s making fun of us on
an island oh yeah yeah yeah um so what about in England is the is the is the palette uh different you know
have you had to de-sugar not as a sweet that was my initial thought but no no
everyone loves sugar apparently now this is the world that we live in JW doesn’t he’s a diabetic yes that’s true yeah
don’t touch that yeah actually I have Marcus it’s quite lovely thank you I appreciate it go to the hospital after
that diabetic reasons but I mean it is a very it is a very nice sugar whiskey
right and to answer your original question we take the our Bourbon and then we steep it in pecan and we add
vanilla and muscovado sugar which the sugar really for me makes it um and that’s what you get is it a
special kind of sugar yeah the muscovado is um a specific type of sugar that comes right off the sugar cane so it
tends to be a little bit it’s sweeter and more confectionary and they cook it a little bit it’s a Browner sugar like
that and we tried like 20 different iterations of sugar and that was the one hands down so is it like everybody goes
in the Board Room like Hey we’re going on a sugar hunt you know everybody goes and gets five sugar like there’s got to
be research in it you see the trend of the market you know and then was it a sugarhood it’s like everybody bring your
canes in you see who’s this is the best you know yeah this stuff takes time right so it’s not
like you can just I think this will be a good idea let’s wait 20 years and we’ll find out you know so how does that all
work yes I mean it’s not a sugar hunt it’s let’s order some different sugars on Amazon and then we bring them bring
them in in small batches and we flavor it but it does take time like when you’re just sweetening or adding sugar
to or uh flavoring that that doesn’t take as much time but for instance like
the Gin took we did over 100 iterations of that because you have to distill and redistill and add that took forever we
almost gave up on that seriously yeah yeah yeah well so Marcus this all black one came to him to be in 2018 correct uh
you you put out vodka gin bourbon Rye Texas Pecan brown sugar bourbon which you mentioned you’d have 100 Proof
bourbon 100 Proof Rye in a barrel um rested gin as well and there’s a
third there’s a the newest one is on the table it’s the third one over from myself with the black top that’s that’s
coming out in in January said right can we talk about that or is it still secret oh no you we can talk about it
on the table man I mean uh yeah that is our fully
um created if you will cooked fermented distilled at The Distillery since day
one bourbon so um it’ll be between three and four years old uh we’re calling it Prairie Gold
this will be our premium bourbon that we released we’re really excited about it just because
um there’s not a ton of what we call straight Texas bourbon great grain to Glass out there there’s a few people you
have to understand the whiskey industry in Texas is super young um the oldest whiskey Distillery here is
2008. oh yeah so compare that to Kentucky how long right oh
the 1800s and then compare that to Scotland and Ireland right like so
um we’re just very young and we’re still figuring things out and so to have our first like release of granted glass
straight bourbon is really exciting is that good I mean are we becoming a region to reckon with you know kind of
like the wine stuff or is it still yet to be determined I I we’re gonna get there yeah I think the problem is is
that a lot of people compare Kentucky bourbon to Texas Bourbon and that will never ever happen because it’s the
climate makes such a huge difference in all alcohol that you make and so I think what you’ll start to see is some really
good Texas Bourbons emerge as a distinct flavor and then what you’ll see I think is that you’ll have a North Texas
bourbon a central Texas and a South much like California yeah you know all the way down Central Coast South and Napa
um because again the climate here in Fort Worth or DFW is much different than Austin is much different than Houston
does their uh are other states doing it too you don’t hear about like oh I had this wonderful Rhode Island bourbon let
you know last night yeah um or maybe is that or or we just why here no I I think
there’s definitely a it’s a focus here right but also you have to understand like going back to my original Point
distilling to get into is very difficult The Upfront costs and capital is huge
comparatively to anything else what are we talking about a lot like round about Millions
for the machinery and all that for the well surely not just that just also you
what you make you’re gonna sit on for four to four years right and you’re just
collecting and collecting is that an asset yeah but are you generating revenue on it no you have to build the
brand in the meantime right yeah so um the barriers to entry on distilling are much higher which again is why we
don’t have nearly as many distilleries compared to say breweries or even wineries in California yeah yeah yeah
there’s a gentleman that works with you named Ezra yes uh is his hands in all
these things sitting in front of us absolutely can you tell us about Ezra Cox please yeah Ezra’s amazing uh he’s our Master distiller
um he’s had a long career about Brewing and Distilling uh he and I are on the
same page in terms of ideology and what we’re trying to do and what we want to do which is
um again we continue to say Elevate craft and make quality Spirits because there’s so much competition now right
yeah if you don’t make great liquid um then it’s over and I don’t even care
if you have George Clooney or Ryan Reynolds right because who are who are they these are celebrities that own
liquor companies that have done very well but tequila the Tequila’s got a lot of that Brad Pitt action and stuff oh
sure yeah the rock right the tequila is very hot right now maybe the hottest Spirit but if you’re not making a good
product I don’t I don’t care if you’re Matthew McConaughey right it doesn’t matter because you can get anyone to try
something once it’s will they come back and drink it again and again and again so they may get that initial I’d like to
try that but they won’t have the brand loyalty if the liquid isn’t right well and you’re not a bad looking dude Marcus
so I think you kind of concealing the same thing that’s exactly yeah on that brand loyalty I know I have a friend
who’s got um a wife who works in one of the large retail uh places the liquor stores and
he says that what they do is they’ll they’ve got all the the products they would have yours but they’d only order a
limited Supply so when you go in and they’re out of it they’ll turn them on to well don’t you want the Sam’s brand
kind of thing so you have competition even in there maybe you can speak to that a little bit too in the distribution because I’m sure there’s
challenges in that too as far as being profitable uh in this business yeah I
mean it’s a dirty business right and remember that I was a lawyer before this too so like I know
um it’s a lot of Sue all your competition out of business if you need to it’s just too too costly I’d like to
I’d like to sue a few of them but no um it’s it’s just a lot of pay to play
okay which is what a lot of like places want sure I’ll bring your which is illegal by the way but besides the fact
it’s a smaller younger brand doesn’t have money to spend thousands of dollars to get your bottle on a shelf somewhere
sure and it’s not economically feasible either because the people are coming in to buy Cheetos and Jack Daniels anyways
right yeah um and then yes to your point there are a lot of deals going on under the table
where it’s like okay we’ll put your stuff on the shelf or we’ll forget to bring it on the truck and offer them
something else that happens a lot yeah that’s what I mean because they get the huge margins on the the base or the you
know the wholesale product or whatever especially at restaurants especially there’s yeah yeah you don’t really know
what’s going I mean unless you’ve got a real acquired taste to it yeah yeah well when I see sorry when I see the report
that comes out each week where we have someone order something and they don’t get it that’s really frustrating because we have a lot of product out there so
then you have to go back and hunt it down right oh right where are you seeing the most strength in your products is it
bars is there any particular place location as far as uh yeah it’s a good
question so you have to divide the world into sort of two different areas you do liquor stores which is what’s called
off-premise and you do bars restaurants hotels into what’s called on-premise it’s much easier to get cases into
liquor stores right because they’re they’re there to make turn and make money and yeah great
getting a bottle on the Shelf in a restaurant or bar is hard they have limited shelf space they know what
they’re turning they know what they want they know what people want so you have to employ a lot of people
and personal time and go out there and hit the pavement um and then that’s expensive yeah right
but you have to build the brand in bars and restaurants so we’ve pretty much done a great job in Fort Worth and
Dallas that’s our big Market Houston’s number two um and then you have Central Texas which
is its own place and then it’s not weird enough man when
I go to Houston everyone says oh that’s great I love that it’s Texas made it’ll definitely bring it down yeah when I go
to Austin they say but it’s not made in Austin right and they have a lot of distilleries there and you know and I
went to UT so both my parents went to UT I love Austin yeah but it’s it’s changes
every year it’s really yeah well on the side of this happening you’ve also created an establishment here in town uh
it’s a bar and it’s a Eatery of sorts I mean what’s the right word it’s a lounge cocktail lounge you’ve won awards you in
19 you were best cocktail Lounge you’ve won best date night spots best Lounge
Bar of the year I mean these are cool things these are recent Awards too from local Publications so I’ve been there
several times and the food’s fantastic you have a pretty much pretty good signature drink menu I was going to ask
you about that things like dreamsicle fudge the Thurston howl and Bananarama like who’s doing these drinks this is
not an Ezra or a Marcus creation is it is it somebody else doing these things now it’s the staff it’s our GM is Warren
um who you who for eight years was at Thompson’s and now um uh and I try to give a lot of
autonomy to whoever’s running the tasting room because and and the the staff in there too because they like
um to create drinks and that’s insane so these are your guys brainchilds that’s right and we we change it quarterly just
based on seasonality and what’s um fresh right but the you have to think of
the the bar the the cocktail lounge as marketing for the brand because the business is distribution so I want you
to come in and have an amazing cocktail and an amazing experience so that you’ll leave and go buy black land at other
places or at the liquor store so I say sometimes like we cheat a little bit in that we fresh squeeze our juices daily
and throw them out at night we make all our bitters we make all our liqueurs we make everything there and we have unique
drinks so that um it’s a an experience you can’t get anywhere else and so maybe the profit
margin isn’t as big as someplace else but again it’s a long-term play of come
in and enjoy and Friday Saturday is reservation only like you have to have a reservation or not huge and that’s what
I really like about this it’s a rocking place man I think you did a really good job where is it just up just behind uh what Montgomery
Ward’s yeah this little area down there find the target sorry oh yeah yeah yeah yeah
um Marcus so you started in 18 but you I don’t know if this is good or bad but you obviously you were right on the
precursor to covid covid as we most people generally know alcohol sales and
and drinking took a Skyrocket because we were all at home and this and that did covid America help your business at that
point uh you know in a couple ways I think it hurt us on premise in bars and
restaurants and hotels because a lot of them were shut down right so we got hurt there it helped us get placements in
liquor stores to your point where people were just drinking all the time and then they kept drinking they didn’t stop
drinking you know as we’ve subsided they’ve continued to drink yeah so in that sense it really helped wine and
um distilled Spirits I it didn’t really do a lot for beer right because beer is more like this fun outside Festival yeah
sporting event concert and so they’ve they got hurt and then you know you have
this Seltzer that’s come in um which I think is a fad and a trend but that there’s a lot that’s where the
industry is going I think tequila is here to stay no doubt like that’s hot yeah it’s only going to get hotter
um are you looking at it no not at all so what’s the graph look like like for JW’s question
um like pre-covered during covid and now out of covet what’s the what’s the line graph well it’s a little interesting
because you know we didn’t start distribution until September of 2019. so
we’ve now been out what I call in the world for three years yeah uh but since 2019 we’ve doubled our sales every year
so it looks like this oh yeah uh but I don’t know what I I never know like it
well it’ll happen again this year yes it will but I don’t know at some point but that’s annual not like so there may be
dips in those oh there are dips yeah there are dips especially you can look at the trends yeah like July is probably
the worst month it’s too hot or something it’s too hot and yeah people leave they go to Colorado especially
here and uh they don’t go out as much you know we don’t have any investors or
important people who watch this show so you can be as honest as you want future revenues yeah well I mean now we’re now
we’re getting into it it’s really exciting because um what we call it o and D which is October November December
that’s just the good time this is the good time where you make a lot of your money now right yeah so holidays
drinking parties gifts Yep this is especially whiskeys well and I was thinking on the gift side where do you
guys get the bottle like these are beautiful bottles uh is is that like a similar to the sugar hunt where we’re
gonna go on a bottle hunt and everyone’s gonna bring five bottles to the boardroom and how does that all go down
oh I I had hired a woman at the very beginning to design our bottles and all she does is design bottles that’s her
whole job yeah um and so but where do we Source our bottles from or or where was this was
this taken conceptually from somewhere or I told her what the idea was and what we were trying to do at The Distillery
and this is what she came up with and we instantly just yeah what do we call this woman what does she have a name yeah a
bottler actually a very interesting story about her name is Oona uh and una Hart she lives in La
um she used I I saw her one night I came home and I saw her on a commercial it
was like a Revlon commercial seriously and I called her and I said hey did I just see you on a commercial or I’ve
just been working too many hours or drinking too much what what’s going on and she said yes I used to be a supermodel I was in eyes wide shut and
some other films but this is all I do now and I just do it to keep my sag card but please don’t tell anybody wait a
minute did you already have do you know like she was your bottle or the designer before and then you saw the commercial
yeah this was way after I only had the bottles and I thought like where did you find out about her from like an investor
or something saying oh you got to get this great no one of the schools I went to she had presented and she said packaging is important here’s why it’s
important this is what we do if you’re interested you know yeah it’s tremendously unique and I congratulate you on that’s for sure that’s really
good before we get past the covid days I had one more one more question for you because one day Brenton my wife comes
home she’s Miss sanitizer when the covet happened I can’t go two feet in my house
without her squirting sanitizer on me or somewhere near me she brings home some black land Distillery sanitizer he kind
of revamped I don’t know if I don’t know exactly I just don’t remember this but you did a big thing here you changed
some level you instead of making all I mean again I don’t know the story but she started making sanitizer and giving
it out I thought it was a really cool Market one thing that we all know you and love you but that was a pretty awesome thing you did well I appreciate
that In fairness we sold it we gave to a lot of Charities right but then we sold it to the General Public and keep some
Revenue going but yes we we all that everyone needed it from the homeless
shelters uh the night shelters the terror County Food Bank to everywhere um so that was nice yeah it’s funny
because some people wouldn’t take it well one person we tried to give it to Cook’s children’s and they were like it just smells too much like gin
okay yeah was it um would it have any of like sugar or anything in it oh we put it
like like to try to sweeten it yeah well we put Botanicals to try and mask it because we were just creating like ethanol right sure didn’t have a great
smell to it so they’re using this the equipment you have for the gym yeah that’s right but you step it up like
it’s super high potency on that like the sanitize that oh yeah yeah it had to be a higher alcohol proof yeah yeah and we
had to also tell people like don’t drink it even though it smells like this you know because we had to put other things
that the FDA mandates for um cleaning and sanitation and then you
know yeah so did any come in this beautiful bottle no because again we didn’t want we didn’t want to confuse it
fantastic other distilleries tried that in other states and and they had a problem
we know you’re super busy these days what just generally speaking what’s a typical day look like for as a distiller like somebody doesn’t know this world
what does your typical day look like um well for me it’s a lot of of in the
mornings oversight day-to-day operations to make sure Productions on test all the orders are in and out and that we’re
making all of the alcohol touching base with sales to see how we’re doing if I need to talk to anyone touching base
with our Distributors Southern glazers to make sure they don’t need anything a lot of calls on customers are big
customers to make sure to thank them and calls on new customers to say hey what can we do to get Blackland in here and
then a lot of events where I go to meet the maker who’s me to talk about the brand
um or just do some tastings and that could be here in DFW that could be in
another city in Texas that could be in another state it’s just non-stop right yeah
what uh what’s what’s the biggest trouble or issue you have to solve these days if there is one
employees what’s the hardest well I mean employees are always going to be as you grow like hard to get them like you’re
drinking the product probably yeah that has happened a few times I’m just sanitizing my hands in here it’s
definitely happened um no I think it’s gotten easier on employees but if all employees have HR
issues right they everyone has an issue all the time and so that takes time yeah
um how to grow is that hard yeah business like should we do it now or should we wait like I gotta see you know
yeah you can’t just go into a new state and put your alcohol on the shelf and go
okay we’re here uh come by us we did that with our podcast that’s right our
moms love it yeah they’re here the boys have arrived yeah that’s right when you
enter a new skate new state with a product what is what’s the what’s the action that needs to happen is it just a
marketing Ploy in that particular State uh in essence you know we’ve kind of learned by default and and doing it now
over and over on what works and what doesn’t work right well first you need a great distributor and we do we have one
in southern glazers right it’s the largest distributor in the United States there’s Cheetos and everything else how did you connect with them with Mommy
asking well we started with Benny Keith okay um uh and so and they’re great beer
distributors yeah and then and I love the people of mini Keith uh but then as we expanded and had proof of sales the
reality is there’s two distributors in this country and it’s rndc and it’s glazers
right um and the re and the reality unfortunately is that they have all the connections and they have all the
relationships because there’s if you think about just like Total Wine there’s a wine buyer there’s a beer buyer and there’s a Spirits buyer sure you have to
be in if you’re selling Spirits yeah so finally we talked to both of them and we started getting attention then we we
just went with um glazers at that point I just it felt right and they also distribute TX and they they have they
you know they know Fort Worth and um everywhere and so we’re actually with them in all of the states that we’ve
expanded into and they’ve been a great partner for us so um so you have to have a great distributor
you have to have people on the ground you have to go into the market and show that you care and connect and you have
to do marketing and you have to do social media and you have to have influencers and you you have to spend time there you have to do it all right
but the one good thing I’ve seen as we’ve grown is once you’ve established yourself in Texas again good or bad in
Texas it is a it is a credibility builder in terms of when we went to Missouri Total Wine there I was like
we’re going to turn you on no problem or we go to Arizona and Total Wine says absolutely out there yeah whereas when I
started I had to beg to just get into one Total Wine right and so it does get
easier sure over time no and that’s really good to hear I mean I do think there are such tremendous opportunities
in this state because we have an influx of a lot of people coming in that you always hear about that but that’s really
good to hear that you can go outside of here and it gives you a little bit of credibility as well that you know it’s
like oh if you’re in Texas you’ve done it differently you’ve succeeded we’ll take it you know yeah is the business is
it where you want it to be is where you expected this to be are you still satisfied with the growth or do you have
huge plans ahead of us are we what can you tell us about that oh no I still have huge plans to grow I mean I I
started this to be a national brand I didn’t want it to be a uh you know a small local Distillery or anything like
that and we’ve had a really quick expansion I would say for three
years of where we are and where we want to be the the you know going back to one of the problems this is a capital
intensive business right I mean to not only build The Distillery but
then make all the alcohol and sit on it then as you grow and scale that’s great you’re putting out more product out
there into the world but then you still have to buy the bottles and the labels and the tops and the raw materials for
grain and yeast and all of it right yeah yeah so um again it’s not for the faint of heart
yeah well and then there’s the marketing so I was going to ask that too is like okay product cost you know if you’ve got
a scale of a hundred percent how much is in marketing versus how much is in the
actual production of the product because it seems that of all things bamboos is
like way marketing heavy you know like yeah this is a marketing business right
like this is 90 marketing um and and we I don’t care what you make
every brand is different and what works for you in marketing is different so we’ve had to kind of hone in on that and
figure out I don’t say we’ve wasted a lot of money but you have to spend a lot of money to really dial in on what works
for us and so we have a great director of marketing and social media her name is uh Hannah La camp and
um she kills it and I’ll just say for us it’s a lot of social media it’s a lot of social media ad because your Roi and
your return not only can be measured it’s just you’re reaching a much wider audience
um and you know radio is expensive yeah Billboards are super expensive
um and TV you know whereas when my kids are right now are just watching YouTube anyway yeah and you can Target in on
your audience that way and narrow it down for a lot less money I just it’s
for us it’s hands down the best way nice so that’s why we’re going to charge you for as much
speaking of kids where do you start your kids uh on the in the Gin the bourbon yeah the clear liquids by the way Marcus
11 and 9. okay so they’re probably you know for just diving in now sniffing
snipping you know I mean they’re not the gold standard yes yes they Unfortunately
they probably have a much broader knowledge of the distilled Spirits industry than other 11 and 9 year olds
you know um I see my uh for for example one of my daughter’s
classmates the other day said did you make wine today and my daughter immediately said we don’t make wine we
make distilled Spirits like how dare you how dare you even bring that up right yeah that is awesome yeah so yeah I’m a
little worried about that like later on in high school when someone says you know oh they were drinking uh my first
question will always do was it black land because I and I don’t want it to be right I I’m concerned about that I’m
sure yeah um but they’re my best salespeople when we go out to a restaurant if if there’s
not Blackland on the Shelf they’re going to let them know about it yeah they’re very you know aggressive about it and
that’s great because I don’t have to be yeah parties at school are sponsored yeah
sure it’s a good deal yeah so you want to um just state where people can find you I mean and then like we didn’t give
an exact location of the Eatery yeah but what tell us how people can find black land well I mean we obviously have The
Tasting Room behind um Montgomery Plaza behind the target but we’re in every liquor store here
um in DFW certainly we’re in every Total Wine in Texas every specs um most goody goodies that we’re in
every city it shouldn’t be that difficult to find us in the liquor store category can I ask about the big the big retailers like that is that hard like do
do you go in and it’s like one shot like we’re gonna give you one Sip and then if
we don’t like it like how does that like do they do that yeah it’s hard um or do you get to go back multiple oh
you go you can go back I mean now like for let’s take Total Wine that’s there’s
36 Total Wines in Texas okay we’re in all five or actually all seven of our Spirits are in all 36 total ones that
took me you know until this year to do it right it takes time yeah or I’ll go to a bar and they’ll have three of our
spirits and my daughter will say well why did they not have all five and I have to remind her that Hendrix has one
and Tito’s has one and we have three so calm down yeah right like it’s hard when you’re like Daddy right exactly but
we’re making we’re a dif the difference for us is we’re making and distributing five different spirits to try and hit a
much wider group right because stereotypically men gravitate towards whiskeys and women gravitate towards
clear spirits and certainly there’s crossover but if you only make one you’re alienating a group of people that
don’t drink that also what you drink at 20 is different than the way you drink at 30 and 40 or 50. so we may not go as
deep in one category but we we’re trying to hit a bunch of different people um and it’s really good also when we’re
selling into a bar restaurant because then we can oh I have too much bourbon but do you have any gin no we’ll take
the gym right yeah right sure well Marcus we appreciate you being here we are big fans of you and what you’ve done
with Blackland Distillery it’s fantastic product the bar people go to the bar it’s the best place
to hang out with you with your date unless you’re Brenton you probably don’t need to go there too much maybe for a
bite you know um but in my own places I go you don’t worry about that I am worried actually
not past nine o’clock I’m typically in bed by then but thank you for being here man we always ask our guests uh this
this question at the end besides your familial Affairs kids and wife what is the best day of your whole life that
kind of sounded weird like you’re a familial Affairs familial Affairs yes Affairs is a weird word to put at the
end one thing we failed to mention by the way you just reminded me with that glare of yours as this guy’s mom used to
be one of our one of our teachers back in school I loved I loved her seriously Mrs kiprios was fantastic
no kidding yes and she was so much fun and so much pleasure around I still love this woman she was great to be around
but and you have a sister too that she was McGee’s age right my younger brother yes my sister’s much more popular the 99
yes yeah yes I am always always still to this day Lexi’s brother okay now we’ve given you enough time to think about
your questions uh you know this is gonna be like family aside and all of that
um because I went to UT and have grown up we all know where this is going yeah you know I was at I was at the Rose Bowl
it was the greatest thing ever I cried so I’ll never see that game like that again the Rose Bowl too but it was not
for the same team seriously yes yeah I would is that why these things are this color like this new color is like this I
try not to I try not to really go out that much because you know people are so particular about their teams you have to
just sort of calm it down as I’ve gotten older but that was nice most people drink to forget he drinks to remember
Marcus cuprio’s Blackland Distillery things yeah thanks for being thank you cap takes for letting us have some booze
on the stage for once appreciate you Mike Thomas yeah thanks see you guys all right thanks