Masons Yorkshire Gin look to the future

Masons Phoenix Gin

Masons Phoenix Gin - Credit: Archant

In times of adversity a G&T can hit the spot. Cathy and Karl Mason have had their share of both, and are now raising a glass to the future.

Karl and Cathy Mason with their still named Tony

Karl and Cathy Mason with their still named Tony - Credit: Archant

By their own admission, Cathy and Karl Mason are ‘well-versed in crisis’. Floods and fire have all sought to wreak havoc on their distillery business.

In each case they invoked the now familiar spirit of keeping calm and carrying on, or just good old Yorkshire grit, and managed to salvage their business. So now, while they don’t make light of a global pandemic, they have the right mindset to be able to cope with what is thrown at them next.

They do it from a good place. A shiny new distillery in Leeming Bar which opened less than a year after their distillery was destroyed by fire in April 2019.

And they do it at an interesting time. Anyone who has been in a supermarket of late will have seen shelves cleared of bottles of tonic. We are clearly surviving with the help and support of a calming glass of gin and tonic.

The new Masons distillery, which has a shop and smart tasting room, is testament to the Masons’ own spirit a year after their building was destroyed and the stills were forced out of production. After leading the revival of gin in Yorkshire and years of successful growth, within just a few hours, everything for Masons had gone up in smoke.

Cathy and Karl had created a much-loved and highly successful gin borne from a love of the stuff and an ability to translate that into a credible recipe for their own unique spirit and brand, just as the gin phenomenon was getting underway.

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They’d started a social media trend on their ‘Gin & Tonic’ Fridays with their own reviews and thousands of followers. They began to receive many new brands of gin to review.

One Friday night they tried a new gin and reckoned they could do it better themselves. So, as you do, they searched for a small still to begin distilling their own gin.

The Masons gin distillery based at Leeming Bar

The Masons gin distillery based at Leeming Bar - Credit: Archant

‘We wanted it to match our spirit - which is strong and free Yorkshire, with lots of character,’ laughs Cathy.

Their own blend of botanicals created Masons Original gin which proved a big hit and they moved to units in Bedale.

Launched in 2013, the business grew rapidly and it was all hands on deck. Karl was the distiller and Cathy did the labelling, dispatch and admin. Both of them were keen to develop the brand and create exciting new varieties and limited editions – all of which were hugely successful and continue to be so today, such as lavender and Yorkshire Tea.

The distillery was hit by two massive floods but each time they bounced back. But last year’s fire saw the distillery they had built up completely destroyed.

Devotees of the business flocked to help the business. From donations of stationery, laptops, office space and even other distilleries offering up their equipment. The enduring spirit of their staff, the fire service, customers, community and industry colleagues demonstrated true of Yorkshire spirit.

‘We asked production staff to take a week’s holiday – within a week we were producing again.

‘You are only as good as your staff in these situations and the community support was humbling, we are so grateful,’ says Cathy.

With an insurance company that was ‘fantastic, supportive and quick to act’, they were able to move to purpose-built new premises, from which the aptly named Phoenix gin was distilled in a still called Tony, named after Cathy’s dad.

It marked a new beginning and says a heartfelt thanks to the fire and rescue teams. Each bottle of Phoenix Edition has been custom designed and money from every bottle made will be donated to The Fire Fighter’s Charity.

The launch party was just a couple of weeks before the UK went into lockdown but experience has taught Cathy and Karl to be nothing if not stoic.

‘We are well-versed in crisis management,’ says Cathy. After the fire we lost absolutely everything and the official opening of our new distillery was a thankyou to everyone who had helped and supported us.’

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