Yorkshire gin firm looking to European growth

Karl Mason with his wife Catherine with Yorkshire's first Gin, at the New Ellington, York Place, Leeds...12th June 2013.Picture by Simon Hulme
Karl Mason with his wife Catherine with Yorkshire's first Gin, at the New Ellington, York Place, Leeds...12th June 2013.Picture by Simon Hulme
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A premium gin producer is looking to Europe as it plots the next chapter in its growth.

Bedale-based Masons Gin was established by Karl and Cathy Mason in 2013 and has just picked up its first distributors in Switzerland and Italy.

Mr Mason told The Yorkshire Post that there is as much demand for gin in continental Europe as there is in Britain.

“There’s a demand for English gins, England being the home of gin. We are exhibiting in two weeks at the Berlin Bar Show,” he said.

Blue chip retailer John Lewis will also be stocking Masons Gin at its flagship store in Leeds. Mr Mason said the partnership is “significant” because it raises the profile of the brand. The founder of Masons Gin added that he would like to see their products being sold in Waitrose.

He said: “I’d love to get into Waitrose. It’s premium gin. There’s only so far into that arena you want to go.

“We’ve been supported for the last three and a half years by an array of fantastic independent specialist outlets and I wouldn’t want to leave them behind.

“Without them we couldn’t have got where we are now and I want to make sure we carry on working with them.”

The Bedale-based distillery has been on the recruitment path and staff headcount stands at 14. Mr Mason sees that number increasing over the next year.

Masons Gin has also broken through the £1m turnover mark.

“The first three financial years we’ve managed triple digit growth every year and we’re really on the border line to achieve triple digit growth this year,” Mr Mason said.

“It’s actually looking like it’s going to be more like 90 per cent growth. It’d be a shame if we can’t get four years of triple digit growth,” he added.

Mr Mason puts success down to taste, “we put slightly less juniper in, which means you taste everything else that is in there”, he says and because he and his wife love what they are doing.

“We haven’t jumped on a bandwagon or spotted a hole in the market. We’re just gin lovers who are involved in something that we love and want to do it better.”

The business came about as a result of a Facebook page. Mr Mason, who has a background in finance and publishing, said: “We started a Facebook page and it was just for me and some friends to share pictures of us having a gin and tonic on a Friday around six years ago.

“But I ended up getting 10,000 followers and gin companies started taking notice. At the time we had possibly the most popular gin and tonic facebook page in the country.

“We started getting free gin in the post – brands wanting their bottles to be seen in our photos.”

The ultimate ambition for Mr Mason is to establish the brand internationally, while maintaining its Yorkshire roots.

“I want us to be an international premium drinks brand from Bedale,” he said.

While Masons Gin is becoming a name in its own right, Mr Mason says having the Yorkshire name on its product helped unlock doors when it launched.

He said: “It got us a lot of publicity. Yorkshire, you can’t deny, is possibly the most marketable county in England.”

Sticking to their roots

Demand for Masons Gin is high says Karl Mason. “As fast as we make it we sell it essentially,” he said.

“We had to change our distilling schedule this year to meet demand.”

However despite this Mr Mason wants to keep the business in Bedale and instead wants to turn the North Yorkshire town into a destination.

“We want to create a destination within Bedale and make Bedale known for something,” he said.

Mr Mason added: “I’d like a brown sign on the side of the A1 that says Bedale distillery.”