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Making a statement gin

Tended by hand, heated gently with its naked flame burner, the art of distillation is returning to Yorkshire. Felicity Murray talks to a gin enthusiast who has started up his own craft distillery

Karl Mason Masons Yorkshire Gin

It’s not every day you welcome a new addition to your family, but Masons Yorkshire Gin is preparing to show its new still, Steve, to the world. Hand made in Portugal from copper, and a hearty 300 litres in size, he’s no lightweight – but still small enough to create a fantastic artisan spirit.

Since its launch in June last year, Masons Yorkshire Gin has gained a loyal and growing following. New outlets ranging from prestigious hotels and restaurants, to wine bars and independent wine and spirits merchants are choosing to stock it.

“My wife Cathy and I were simply two gin lovers who, after trying too many new gins that were, in our opinion, very much the same, had the mad idea to make our own,” explains Karl.

“We wanted to make a ‘statement gin’ – something bold, different and genuinely new. We thought that if we could get a small leg up with distilling we could create our own micro distillery and bring distilling back to Yorkshire – because, according to our research, there are no distilleries still in operation in the county. It’s been a steep learning curve. However, we hope to continue to make improvements to our new distillery and open a visitor centre soon.

“We are really excited about getting the still up and running. The previous still was 200litres (operated for us by a small distiller who was helping us get started) and it will remain available as a back-up, but only if necessary. The bulk will be done in the 300l still on-site from now on.

"We have a great location here in Bedale and interest in Masons Yorkshire Gin is growing all the time. It’s a fabulous gin with unique flavour and a surprise for the taste buds.

“When we launched the Gin, with no backing or industry contacts, we were amazed at how quickly it was accepted and taken by local boutique country hotels and Michelin star restaurants. Since then it’s been about balancing our passion for Gin with our day jobs, which we hope to leave soon.”

The Gin is produced by the traditional London Dry Gin method with a hot maceration of the botanicals which include: juniper, coriander, almond oil, bay leave, schezuan pepper, cardamon, fennel, lemon, lime and orange peel.

“The flavours produced are very different to a regular juniper strong gin, the pepper has the effect of balancing out the strong juniper flavour and allows the other botanicals to be noticed to give a fuller flavour profile.

”On the nose is juniper, orange, fennel and coriander. On the palate it is smooth with malt notes and a hint of orange followed by coriander and juniper. The flavour then moves to herbal notes with fennel and citrus giving a long, lingering finish.”

The gin is distilled in batches of approximately 400 bottles, which are hand labelled and individually numbered.

Distribution is growing with local independent distributors as well as Gordon & Macphail.

“We deal direct with some outlets and handle sales through our online store. In a couple of weeks time, we will be promoting our gin at the British Ambassador to France’s Paris residence during an evening to promote Yorkshire to France prior to the Grand Depart celebrations for the Tour de France which is coming to Yorkshire in July.” Karl will also be touring the country attending events such as The Yorkshire Show and the BBC Good Food Shows.

A 70cl bottle (42%abv) is priced at £39.99, £15.99 for a 25cl bottle, and they hope to introduce a 50cl size this year. T- 01677 426467 M- 07746 901724


14 April 2014