Masons profile: Madalena Moreira
As Masons Yorkshire Gin’s newest recruit, we delve into the captivating background of Madalena Moreira’s career.
You could spend a lifetime preparing to interview Madalena Moreira. For starters, her wealth of experience in the alcohol industry and her Portuguese heritage could have us chatting endlessly.
Madalena was born and raised in Porto, Portugal – the infamous home of port and deeply connected source of some of Europe’s finest wines. It becomes clear very quickly why Madalena pursued a career in wine and spirits when hearing her speak about her home city. Wine is literally and metaphorically in her blood.
Following her graduation of a wine scholarship in 2008, Madalena travelled to Australia, New Zealand, India and France to continue her education before moving to Glasgow in 2012 to finally pursue her real love – spirits.
Madalena sounds positively enthused when she talks about her time working with Glasgow Distillery, mainly exploring the production of whisky before discovering the complexity of gin.
“That’s where the obsession started. With gin, your base spirit is your canvas which you shape and diversify with botanicals. You can do more with gin than other spirits because it’s got greater creative freedom. I was hooked from the beginning – there’s something so beguiling about the depth and intricacies of distilling.” she says.
When Madalena arrived in the UK, the gin industry was seeing one of its biggest shifts in history. She shares her thoughts on why.
“8 years ago, you could count on one hand how many gin brands you saw in a bar. With a category owned completely by a few big brands, gin remained a sleeping giant. In 2009, and after years of lobbying against acts and sanctions decreeing the licencing of small batch distilling, Sipsmith won their case and opened London’s first copper-pot based distillery in 189 years. This caused an enormous shockwave across the UK and very quickly, small batch distillers started popping up from nowhere.”
And how does she think people’s attitudes have changed since then?
“From a demanding and educated consumer who used to drink wine, you now see the same level of expectation from gin. Demand has levelled up the consumer’s expectations of quality. They know what they’re looking for, hence the diverse offering in the market.”
As Madalena speaks, her eyes tell the story. You can see from the passion in the way she speaks and how she illustrates every word with her body language that this is not just a career for her. It is a way of life. She explains how she uprooted her life with her husband and young boy in the middle of Glasgow to move to rural North Yorkshire, purely for the love of gin.
So why Masons?
“For me, my decision came from seeing the passion for quality and dedication to the roots of the business. Masons started with a huge connection to the local community and provenance. The core of our business comes from the origins of flavour and the respect that Masons has for that is clear.
Quality of gin is past the label and the bottle. It runs deeper than packaging at Masons. It’s a promise delivered.”
As well as an overall responsibility for the distilling side of the business, Madalena’s talents will drive forward the innovation arm of the business. Our purpose-built gin lab within the distillery is Madalena’s domain, and you’ll often find her experimenting with new and exciting flavours. It’s the gin version of a mad scientist.
And finally, on a more personal note, what does Madalena drink at home?
“If I’m honest, tea. I have a 2 year old and I need the caffeine!” she muses. “If I’m drinking gin, I will usually try it neat first and then add premium Indian tonic water to taste. If it needs a garnish, I will add it last.”
And her favourite gin of the moment?
“Masons Phoenix Edition. All the way. I have mine with a slice of blood orange for a touch of bitter, and a sprig of rosemary to finish.”