Hayman’s English Gins
The story of Hayman’s Distillery and their unique portfolio of award winning gins is a long and winding road. Not solely because of the six gins they now create (each deserving individual consideration and a moment of their own) but also because the family has been in the gin making business for generations.
The original company of Hayman Distillers was founded in 1820 and acquired in 1863 by James Burrough, the great grandfather of the current Chairman, Christopher Hayman. Famous for their flagship gin Beefeater, the Burrough Distillery quickly thrived. In the early 1900’s new generations entered the family business setting new milestones along the way, notably Eric Burrough who sold the first shipment of Beefeater to the USA as early as 1917. Having built the distillery into one of the world’s leading gin producers, Eric passed away in 1970. His cousins Alan and Norman continued to develop the business by moving it into larger premises at Montford Place, Kennington in 1958 where it still resides today.
Lesser known in the fabled story of Beefeater Gin and the Burrough’s Distillery history is just how many other sites were owned by James Burrough Ltd, which not only sold gin but also a vast range of other liqueurs.
Critically to the story of Hayman’s (and where they were based over the past decade) Burrough’s Fine Alcohols Division moved from London in the late 1970’s to a site in Witham, Essex. It focused on supplying pure alcohol to the drink, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. At the time, many of the extended family members held shares in the company but the board comprised of James Burrough’s living grandchildren, Alan and Norman, along with their sister Marjorie who was represented by her husband, Neville Hayman. Under the family stewardship, Beefeater Gin and the company survived the darker days of gin’s recent past where demand was at an all-time low. The company remained family-owned until October 1987 when, for a variety of reasons, the majority of the (extended) family decided to sell to the consortium Whitbread.
After the sale, Christopher Hayman (son of Marjorie Burrough and Neville Hayman) who had started working for the company in 1969, became the Operations Director of Whitbread Spirits Group. Although Christopher enjoyed his role, working for a conglomerate wasn’t for him and he desired to return to a family business.
His opportunity soon arrived and on 17th November 1988 Whitbread sold the Fine Alcohols Division to Christopher Hayman, who was backed by other members of the Hayman’s family. Today this business is known as Hayman Limited.
Hayman’s Gin Liqueur (also sometimes known as Hayman’s 1820) is distilled to a specific gin recipe with dominant citrus flavours before being carefully blended into a liqueur. Don’t be fooled by the name however as the liquid is at 40% ABV and while imminently sippable, is no push over. It has both the distinctive character and strength of gin with the sweetness of a liqueur. To taste, the juniper initially takes a back seat allowing the candied citrus notes to come to the fore alongside a viscous sugary hit. It makes quite a good addition to use in a cocktail recipe that requires sugar syrup or triple sec, as the Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur can make for an intriguing substitution.
For those wondering – the 1820 statement itself refers to the date when the distillery acquired by James Burrough was first established. The inclusion of the date was a nod to the idea that they too were at the start of their new journey and establishing their own gins from here on in…
The Hayman’s family soon expanded the range and set out to create different styles of classic English gins under the Hayman’s label, recreating old products from the family’s recipe books while slowly moving away from third party distilling.
Although fast-forwarding the story to 2018 and breaking our linear narrative of the Hayman’s family and their range – it’s worth noting that all of the Hayman’s gins created are now made in a traditional 450L copper pot still called Marjorie, named in memory of Christopher’s mother, along with two other, similarly sized coppers stills, using a multi-shot distilling method.
Interestingly, all the gins in the range actually use the same 10 botanical line up, with the recipe changing from gin to gin to highlight particular flavours and botanical intensity. For example, Hayman’s Old Tom uses almost twice as much juniper as the London Dry, while the Royal Dock has increased spice and the 1850 Reserve leans towards being more coriander seed heavy.
Interlude over – back to a more structured timeline!
Launched in November 2007, Hayman’s Old Tom was the next gin to be created by the family. It is a modern-day recreation of an original family recipe dating from the 1860’s which, some would debate that perhaps unusually for something of that era, contains sugar (as sugar only really became affordable in the 1900’s).
We’ve wrote a separate post about Hayman’s Old Tom back in 2013, because the style of gin as well as the significance of the release – essentially bringing back a previously defunct style of gin back into existence and into the popular consciousness – deserved more than a few paragraphs here. We’ll be revising it soon with more information too.
For those on a quick scan read however, the hints of coriander seed and citrus give a more rounded fragrance, but as with many Old Tom’s it’s the sweetness and thicker texture on the mouthfeel from both the sugar and the liquorice root that shines through. Suffice to say that Hayman’s Old Tom is the standard bearer in this sub-category of gin.
As the name might suggest, Hayman’s London Dry Gin is a classic gin. Distilled to a family recipe using their blend of 10 botanicals, which are steeped for a full day prior to distillation to allow the flavours to release into the alcohol, it is the careful and consistent balance of juniper, coriander, lemon and orange peel which play a vital role in giving the gin its distinct aroma and taste.
That said, orris root, cinnamon, cassia and nutmeg all work to underpin the citrus flush upfront and the resinous soul at the centre of the experience. Together, they give it the typical dry characteristics and a depth of flavour so highly sought after on the finish. The flavours take you on a journey from candied orange, to piny juniper and onto dry angelica and warming cinnamon. It is quintessential London Dry Gin and in our opinion, it is the ‘go to’ in order to explain to drinkers what “classic” or “traditional” Gin flavours taste like.
Launched in 2008, Hayman’s London Dry Gin is often overlooked in favour of the family’s other more unique gins, but do so at your peril. At such an affordable price tag, this gin is an easy bottle to keep returning too, knowing that it will deliver each and every time.
Formerly known as the Family Reserve, it is made to a recipe from 1850. This gin is distilled in batches of around 5,000 bottles with each bottle being individually numbered, then subsequently rested in Scotch Whisky barrels for around month following on from the tradition of the Gin Palaces of that era.
In the 1850’s gin was transported, stored and served in wooden barrels rather than in a bottle. Prior to the bottling act, introduced by William Gladstone in 1861, all gin was sold by either the barrel or the cask. Even after the act, in Gin Palaces of the 1900’s it was common place to serve gin from the barrel and so it would stand to measure that although unintentional, some batches would have been affected by the vessels they were stored in.
While intentionally barrel-aged gins (Aged / Rested / Barrelled as they are sometimes known), are now thriving as a sub-style in connoisseur circles, it is worth noting that it is not a Cask Aged Gin, merely a gin that has been soften by a little time in oak.
While a variety of barrels are used, Hayman’s Family Reserve is primarily rested in old Scotch Whisky barrels, mostly constituting of American Oak wood. The process results in the spirit receiving a very, very slight straw colour. When tasted neat, it has a mellow, rounded characteristic overall. Although only really notable when sipped neat, it is also possible to discern some slight tannic qualities left by the wood on the finish.
The advantage of having been in the gin making business for generations is that one can always look to the archives to find inspiration from the past. This is very much the case with Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin as records show that it was supplied to both the Royal Navy and to trade from 1863.
More precisely, it was delivered to the Royal Dock in Deptford, South London (established in 1513 by Henry VIII) on the River Thames. The Royal Dock and the surrounding areas were infamously known as one of the largest Navy Food and Drinks headquarters, with London being one of the largest ports in the UK. Other ports famously made their own Navy Strength Gins, notably Plymouth, Liverpool and Leith but with the Navy’s thirst for gins reputed to be several tens of thousands of barrels a year – the London docks would have been awash with gin.
Navy Strength Gins are at 57.5% ABV and as a result, Hayman’s Royal Dock has an aromatic nose with bright citrus flickers alongside the alcoholic heat. The mouthfeel is smooth but carries a large botanical intensity of flavour, allowing the woody juniper and warming coriander to shine, before subsiding and letting the firey cassia and enduring nutmeg run riot on the finish. It’s a classic of the genre and a must have gin for lovers of this over proof style, especially when served in a Gimlet.
Launched in 2009, Hayman’s Sloe Gin is a traditional English liqueur made to a long standing family recipe. Wild sloe berries are handpicked in the Autumn after the first frosts. The sloe berries are then gently steeped for several months in Hayman’s London Dry Gin before being blended with natural sugars. The final blend is a rich ruby red liqueur teeming with intense bitter-sweet fruit flavours.
Sloe Gin has been a popular drink from the 19th Century onwards as a digestive and winter warmer, and was considered a required bar item during the first cocktail era in the 1880’s. For those of you who, like us at Gin Foundry HQ, find some of the commercial sloe gins too cloying, this one will definitely appeal as it balances out just short of the sickly sweet mark and as a result, tastes deliciously indulgent neat, yet still mixes well in cocktails.
What next for this distilling dynasty?
The Hayman’s family may be an institution in the world of gin, but they are far from resting on their laurels. Their continued innovation – bringing back entire categories from the depths of the family archives and presenting them to a new swathe of gin lovers, long before gin as a category was even cool – makes them one to watch today. They work to their own ideas of what is right and not, what is worth pursuing and what they find interesting.
Their recent move back to London and the unveiling of their stellar new Balham distillery, alongside a packaging refresh has future proofed them for years to come. Moreover, they continue to actively lead trade discussions about the future of gin as a category. In 2018, they instigated a Call Time on Fake Gin campaign in the mist of industry wide concern about the continued erosion of juniper as the predominant flavour of Gin. While it may have been a conversation that has been ongoing for years, it is their thought leadership on the matter that has helped galvanise the industry into action and spurred a much healthier dialogue over what ought to happen next.
The gins Hayman’s create bear all the hallmarks of their unparalleled affection for the spirit and their respect for its heritage. We don’t often say this of gin makers here at Gin Foundry, but we have nothing but pure admiration for the team at Hayman’s.
They have managed to transcend both external and internal family politics to not just hold on to their business, but to make it thrive. Their portfolio wide offering is both unique in its classicism and of incredibly good quality , retailed at unbelievable value . They may have be quietly bumbling along under the mass radar for the past few years – but they deserve the full recognition as ginsmiths whose continued journey creates a inimitable wake that many will not only notice; but be influenced and inspired by.
Seek them out gin lovers. It’ll be worth your while.
For more information about Hayman’s Gin, visit their website: www.haymansgin.com
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