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Still's in business: Freemason gin distiller survives Covid by carving a new business niche

Thursday, 05 August 2021

Rather than allowing the trials inflicted on business by Covid, Brexit, and the Suez Canal incident to push his fledging distillery to the wall, Matt Felgate has grasped them as an opportunity to open up a new specialist niche – and raise money to support masonic charity in the process

Matt, a member of a Lodge in Lincolnshire, developing bespoke gins for special occasions and organisations. Amongst the first is Tyler’s Toast, produced in support of Freemasonry in general and the #Lincs2025 Festival in particular.

Matt’s selection of botanicals has made the gin so special for Freemasonry. 'We’ve chosen rosemary and pear blossom,' he said. 'The first symbolic of remembrance; the second symbolic of lasting friendship – both of which are obviously important to Freemasons. Both of those things are sure to strike a chord with Freemasons who may not have seen members of their own or Masonic families for 18 months.'

The charity dimension of what he’s doing is a powerful motivator for Matt, who says it’s getting harder and harder to ask people for money in support of charity, even though funds are arguably more important now than ever. 'It’s tough to simply ask people for money,' he says. 'It’s a far more positive message to ask people to invest in something that supports charity but gives them something in return – in this case the chance to sit back with a glass and recall friends they may have lost or friendships we can now rekindle as we emerge tentatively from the pandemic.

'This is my personal effort to help the Festival, but I hope it makes it easier for others to give and to raise money too. Having been a Tyler myself and sung the Tyler’s song, I know how important those things are to Freemasonry.'

Matt is finalising details of how to buy bottles of Tylers Toast on line at the lincolndistillery.co.uk. By the time you read this, that information should be online. 'I’d like to have it finished in time for the resumption of our activities,' he said.

Matt’s bespoke gin creations have also supported the RAF, in which he used to serve. His web site already offers Magic Gin, created to mark the end of service for RAF Waddington’s AWAC fleet, and he has created other recipes for the centenary of the RAF Small Arms Association at Bisley, and for the last-ever summer ball at RAF Scampton.

'Individuals can buy a single bottle of gin from our web site, or we can make a bespoke one in batches of as few as 50 bottles. Either way, our customers have the confidence of dealing with the distiller in a family firm­, and can appreciate the personal touch. Working on new recipes for new clients is a challenge I enjoy – and they like it too,' he added.