From their microdistillery in the market town of Bedale in North Yorkshire, Karl and Catherine Mason craft some of the most distinctive artisan gins around and have placed Yorkshire firmly on the craft gin map.
The story of Masons Gin begins with a Facebook page started by Karl called ‘Gin & Tonic Friday’. Karl and his wife Catherine were both keen gin enthusiasts and decided to write a blog about their favourite gin & tonics, showcasing new gins that they had tasted and gin related news and features. The page quickly gained in popularity and, before long, they had over 10,000 followers! With this public endorsement spurring them on and despite having demanding jobs in publishing and teaching, Karl and Catherine set about creating the first gin to be distilled in their home county of Yorkshire.
Their initial idea was to work with a local distillery to produce the gin but they discovered that there had been no operational distillery in Yorkshire for many years. The couple realised that this presented an exciting opportunity to bring craft distilling to Yorkshire. They began searching for suitable locations and found an ideal site in Bedale around 25 miles north of Harrogate.
While the distillery was being planned and constructed, they worked with a distiller in Cambridgeshire to perfect the recipe for their gin. Karl and Catherine had already decided they wanted to create a gin with a distinctive personality. After dozens of different trial runs and tasting sessions with friends, family and a steady stream of Yorkshire-men and women happy to sample experimental gin blends, they found exactly the right balance of flavours.
The final botanical line-up of juniper, coriander, almond, bay leaf, schezuan pepper, cardamom, fennel, lemon, lime and orange peel is an eclectic mixture of the classic and exotic, with an emphasis on herbs and spices. Since establishing the distillery, Karl and Catherine have begun to grow some of the botanicals in their own back garden, including a selection of Yorkshire juniper bushes which are proving to be exceedingly reluctant to produce any berries!
They ordered a custom made 300 litre alembic pot still from Portugal, which on arrival in Bedale was promptly christened Steve (and has since been joined by an identical brother, allowing them to double capacity) and production at their new micro-distillery started immediately. The distillation method is traditional and, to create a smoother spirit, the heads and tails of the distillation are discarded and not redistilled, with only the heart selected for the final gin which is then cut back to a bottling strength of 42% ABV. The bottles are distilled in small batches of around 275 and are then hand filled, labelled and numbered on site at the distillery.
Masons Gin has a huge aromatic nose of herbs, spices and orange zest. The palate is bold with juniper, orange and coriander spice followed by herbal notes of fennel, liquorice and citrus. Without doubt one of the most distinctive and individual gins around – we highly recommend a Masons gin and tonic, a brilliant mixture of sweetness, spice and herbs.
Karl and Catherine launched Masons Gin on World Gin Day, 15th June 2013 and within a week they had nearly sold out of the first batch. The gin was eagerly taken on by bars and restaurants across the county and beyond. Encouraged by this enthusiastic reception, they have continued to experiment with flavour combinations and in 2015 released two brilliant special edition bottlings, Masons Lavender Gin and, the most distinctively Yorkshire spirit imaginable, Masons Yorkshire Tea Gin! Masons Gin has established itself at the forefront of the craft distilling movement in the North of England and is justifiably proud of its Yorkshire heritage.