Cathy and Karl Mason are the founders of Masons award-winning gin, born of their wish to give the traditional gin & tonic a shake-up. In doing so, they helped to spark an explosion of interest in exquisite, craft-made English gins. Masons gin is distilled and bottled in Bedale, where Cathy has lived all her life. The couple have two grown-up children, Charlie and Anna, and a dog called Mouse.

You’re in Yorkshire – why not puddings or parkin... or even real ale? Why gin?

Cathy: It all started back in 2013 when Karl, who liked to relax with a G&T after a hard day’s work, started to notice that mass-produced gins all tasted much of a muchness. One day he turned to me and said: “We can do better than this!”

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Karl: Our aim was to create something characterful and distinctive, the sort of gin we would choose to drink. We have succeeded beyond our expectations.

You must be feeling top of the world with two gold, a silver and a bronze at the World Spirits competition in San Francisco this year. How have you done it?

Cathy: Our first few batches were made outside the county as there were no stills in Yorkshire. The initial distillation was 120 bottles and its launch – on World Gin Day 2013 – far surpassed our expectations. We quickly ordered a still – which we affectionately named Steve – and within six months we were distilling, bottling and labelling in Bedale.

Karl: The growth of the business has been amazing. We started as a cottage industry and are now one of the UK’s leading premium craft gin distillers. We employ 30 people and are producing 2.500 bottles a week, with plans to be stocked on every spirit isle across the globe. We already export to American and Australia, and are stocked by the likes of Harvey Nichols, and closer to home, Lewis and Cooper. The Masons brand just keeps growing stronger. Plans to have a visitor centre with a botanical garden are the next phase of the Masons’ story.

What makes the taste of Masons so distinctive? Is it something in the water?

Cathy: Yes, pure Yorkshire water is excellent for making gin. We distil the ingredients in our 300-litre, flame-heated copper stills (Steve now has a companion called Leftie!). It’s an old-fashioned way of distilling, but gives an incredible smoothness and allows the taste of our botanicals to shine through. We use strong botanicals that carry well and blend beautifully.

Karl: We use just the right balance of juniper, citrus and a secret botanical ratio. The result is a deliciously smooth, aromatic spirit infused with a subtle blend of natural herbs and spices.

How do you create and develop new flavours? Who gets to do all the tasting?

Cathy: We have a taste development team that meets regularly to come up with new ideas and recipes. We sample each batch we make, and periodically launch limited editions. Steve, one of our distillers, collects his fallen apples once a year and we distil Steve’ Apple Edition, for example. We are launching a Peppered Pear at Harrogate Christmas Market this year.

KARLS PERFECT G&T

Double measure of Masons Original

Premium tonic water

Ratio: 1:4

Lots of ice

Orange peel