October 8, 2015

Gin Tales – What We Learnt from the Inaugural Drivers’ Club Member’s Evening

Karl-Mason masons Gin

Karl Mason from Masons Gin

As many of you will know, last month saw us hold our very first exclusive Drivers’ Club Member’s Evening. The speaker for the evening was Founder of Masons Yorkshire Gin, Karl Mason, and promised those in attendance a night of gin talk and tasting, accompanied by eats from Bowcliffe’s own Signature chef, John Topham.

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It’s safe to say that the evening did not disappoint! Here’s a snapshot of what we learnt (take a taxi to all Members’ Club events) and what we drank (from what we remember it was gin)…

On a blustery September evening, 50 of Yorkshire’s business elite arrived at Bowcliffe Hall, greeted into the welcoming, sumptuous Drivers’ Club in a way that was only apt for such an evening – with a cool, crisp G&T made with Masons Dry Gin.


After a chance to catch up, members settled in to hear from Karl, who began by surprising everyone by telling them that Masons Gin was a company that came about entirely by accident. A Facebook post featuring a photo of a perfectly made G&T posted by Karl’s wife as a joke, led to an overwhelming response from friends and family doing the same, and as a result Karl set up a G&T Friday Facebook page, which ended up with 14,000 followers. The rest, as they say, is history…

Canapes by John Topham

After a blind taste test, which thankfully saw 100% of testers choosing Masons Gin over a major leading brand, the evening was a brilliant combination of fun facts, education and of course – most critically – key pointers in how to make the perfect G&T. Guests were treated to superb canapés and bowl food provided by Bowcliffe’s own Signature Chef, John Topham.

Here are some of our favourite facts from the evening…

  • Gin is made (distilled) in three stages: – the beginning, the middle and the end. The middle stage yields the very best gin and the most prestigious distilleries (Masons included) ONLY collect from this part of the process. Cheaper gins will take part of the beginning and end processes too.
  • Most gin distilleries name their stills. Karl laughingly noted that London distilleries have a habit of naming theirs things like ‘Prudence’. The current Masons Gin still was christened something rather more grounded; ‘Steve’.
Steve the Masons Gill Still
  • It takes Steve (the Masons Gin still) 48 hours from start to finish to distil a batch (275 bottles) of gin, and a total of four days to complete the process with bottling and labelling.
  • Gin distilleries use ‘botanicals’ to add subtle taste differences to their gins. For example, Hendricks Gin uses cucumber water to flavor their batches. The exact blend of Masons Gin botanicals are a trade secret, but alongside their more traditional gins, bottles include a ‘Yorkshire Tea Edition’ and a heavenly ‘Lavender Edition’ – both of which we can confirm are absolutely delicious.
  • It is the addition of juniper berries which make the spirit ‘gin’ rather than vodka.
  • The higher the alcohol percentage, the higher the tax for distilleries. Many well known brands save millions creating 37.5% gin – as opposed to Masons who refuse to compromise on flavour, creating a sublime gin with a 42% alcohol content.

Karl’s top tips on how to make the perfect G&T

1.) Specify your tonic

How often when ordering a G&T have you been asked which gin you’d prefer? Now think about how many times you’ve been asked to specify the tonic you’d like – never? Karl made the point that different tonics have the ability to completely change the taste of your gin. He favours Fevertree tonic, incase you were wondering.

2.) ALWAYS measure your gin.

1 part gin to 4 parts tonic if you please.

 3.) Choose your garnish carefully.

As part of the Gin evening, members were presented with bowls of different garnishes (rosemary, cucumber, orange to name but a few). They were asked to try the gin with various garnishes and see how it affected the taste. Just like when matching a sauce to your meal, garnishes can have a huge affect on flavor. Pick wisely.

A huge thanks to Karl from Masons Gin and to all those who attended, we had a fantastic response to the evening as you can see below…

“Thank you for a fabulous night. Next time I shall be a little more organised with taxis etc.! Great company, fantastic presentation, delicious food and superb surroundings.”

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“The evening was fantastic, with superb food and a great insight into the development of a high quality locally produced product. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next Drivers’ Club event.”

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