UNIQUELY YORKSHIRE TIPPLE FOR SUMMER - COUNTY’S ONLY DISTILLERY PRODUCING SUPERB GIN

There's a unique Yorkshire tipple ideal for the long summer evenings that is proving a growing favourite with connoisseurs of the finest artisan spirits.

Masons Yorkshire Gin , created by husband-and-wife Karl and Cathy Mason in the heart of the Dales, is rapidly growing into the gin of choice for those seeking an enticing blend of distinctiveness and subtlety, thanks to the couple’s own recipe of aromatics and botanicals arrived at after much experimentation.

An ever-growing list of stockists throughout Yorkshire and beyond is testament to its quality and popularity, as Karl and Cathy build their business into a real success story of locally-produced excellence.

It’s only a little more than a year since Masons Yorkshire Gin was launched, and it has the unique distinction of being produced at the county’s only distillery, in Bedale, using a custom-made copper still.

It is also a first for Yorkshire, as there has never been a gin distilled in the county previously.

And what makes Karl and Cathy’s story so fascinating is that their business, with its increasingly optimistic outlook, came about entirely by accident.

Karl said: “How do you start a gin business? Neither my wife nor I had ever even worked in a bar, never mind in the drinks business.

“We started by accident. I sent a message on Facebook one Friday saying, ‘It’s gin and tonic time’, which meant that when I got home, there’d be a gin and tonic waiting for me.

“Within a couple of weeks, friends started sending pictures of them having a gin and tonic on a Friday. That turned into a little Facebook group sharing gin and tonic pictures, but soon it wasn’t so little because I suddenly found I had 10,000 followers.”

The big gin companies were quick to latch onto Karl’s following, and started to send him free samples in the hope he would promote them. But some of the gins left him underwhelmed.

“I was trying these different varieties of gin and started to think, ‘Hang on, some of these are a bit boring,’ and on a whim I wondered if I could do any better. That’s how it started.”

Karl and Cathy, both 47, started researching both recipes and distilling.

“It turned out that there wasn’t a distillery left in Yorkshire, they had all closed down,” said Karl.

“We had to get some help on how to distil on a really small scale, and we took it from there.

“We tried various recipes, some of them failed miserably, but we had a few successes, and we had a few parties for friends to get their opinion on the recipes we were working on, until we finally thought, ‘Right, that’s the one’.”

The ingredients of Karl and Cathy’s gin are not a secret – but the ratios of each that go into it to create the unique flavour are.

There are juniper berries – grown in their own garden - almond oil, coriander seed, fennel seed, cardamom pods, Schezuan pepper, bay leaf, lemon and lime peel, and Seville orange peel.

Masons Yorkshire Gin is produced using the traditional London Dry Gin method at a workshop in Bedale’s Craft Yard using a 300-litre hand-made copper still and Harrogate Spring Water. A sugar beet mash is fermented to create the base alcohol, before the aromatics and botanicals are added during the distillation process.

It was launched in June last year, with the first distillation of 120 bottles. Now, production has grown tenfold to about 1,200 a month.

That’s meant some hard work for Karl and Cathy. He runs his own publishing business in Ripon, and until this summer she worked in secondary education, but has now left to concentrate on the gin business.

From the start, Karl and Cathy’s unique blend of ingredients and the distinctive flavours they produce were a hit with gin lovers.

Karl said: “We’ve had a fantastic reaction, because we set out to make it different. So many gins have a very, very narrow flavour profile and I wanted one that didn’t conform.

“Usually with gin, you get hit by the notes of the juniper and that’s all that really hits you. With ours, juniper’s there, but it’s not like the leading actor at the front of the stage taking all the limelight, you notice the other ingredients around it.

“Some people say, ‘I can taste orange’, some people say, ‘I can taste liquorice’, even though that’s the fennel seeds, some say it’s the cardamom, or say it’s dry. You get a different reaction from different people because everyone’s got different tastebuds.

“You notice everything that’s going on, not just the stereotype and because of that we get quite a lot of red wine drinkers and whisky drinkers who like it, because they like full flavours.”

Enthusiastic followings on Twitter and Facebook, as well as word-of-mouth, have helped Masons Yorkshire Gin to grow.

And so has the support of one of its key stockists, Fodder, the award-winning farm shop and cafe at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate devoted to showcasing the very best of Yorkshire produce, which has hosted tastings of Masons Yorkshire Gin.

Karl said: “Fodder’s support has been great. When people know that Fodder supports you, it gives you some credibility.”

Masons Yorkshire Gin, with its distinctive label bearing the county’s white rose, is also being stocked by prestigious hotels and restaurants, wine bars, leading farm shops and independent wine and spirits merchants.

It was served at the British Ambassador to France’s official residence in Paris during an evening promoting Yorkshire prior to Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France coming to the county in July.

Karl and Cathy’s gin is also proving a favourite with visitors to events at which fine artisan products are showcased, including the Great Yorkshire Show and the BBC Good Food Show.

The future’s looking bright for Masons Yorkshire Gin. As time goes on, Karl and Cathy hope to expand production, and perhaps open a visitor centre at their distillery.

ENDS

19 August 2014

Media Contact:  Jane Thornber, General Manager, 01423 546271 or janet@fodder.co.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS

Masons Yorkshire Gin can be found at www.masonsyorkshiregin.com

Fodder is at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate HG2 8NZ, telephone 01423 546111 and at www.fodder.co.uk

All profits from Fodder go to fund the work of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the charity at the heart of the county’s rural life. In addition to staging the Great Yorkshire Show, the society has an extensive educational programme to help children understand where their food comes from and promotes countryside careers.

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The Yorkshire Agricultural Society was formed in 1837 and is a charity dedicated to supporting the farming industry and rural life. Best known for staging the annual Great Yorkshire Show, England's Premier Agricultural event and Countryside Live, it's sister event. The value of the support it provides to regional farming and countryside initiatives has risen year on year to nearly £1m. The 2016 Great Yorkshire Show runs from Tuesday 12 – Thursday 14 July and Countryside Live is on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October 2016. Both take place at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, North Yorkshire and are flagship events for agriculture and rural life. The Society plays a key role in supporting rural life, through grants, sponsorships and has a very active education department which runs a wide range of activities aimed at increasing the knowledge of young people and their teachers about the important role farmers play in producing our food and caring for the landscape. An important date on the annual calendar is the annual Countryside Days event when thousands of primary school children use the showground as a resource for learning. In June 2009, the Society also opened its Regional Agricultural Centre at the showground which will be a focus for excellence for the industry, as well as the new home of the Society. Yorkshire Event Centre Limited (YEC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Society and all YEC’s profits go to fund its charitable work. Who's Who in the Yorkshire Agricultural SocietyChairman: Simon TheakstonPresident: Sarah YorkPresident Elect: Lord MiddletonChief Executive: Nigel Pulling

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