Lizzie Bailey – Hayman’s Gin
With a unique combination of being family run, having a full portfolio range and also remaining active in bringing archived gin history back to the fore, we decided to catch up with Hayman’s Gin owner James Hayman, as well as ask their fresh starter Lizzie Bailey a few questions about life at the Essex based distillery.
Gin Foundry: James, you’ve mentioned the need for all distilleries to bring in fresh talent to us in the past, but why do you feel it’s important that companies, such as yourselves, support the new generation of distillers from the start of their careers?
James Hayman: At Hayman Distillers having the correct distilling capability is at the crux of our plan – now and in the future. There are a limited number of distillers in the UK therefore as a distilling company we fully support education programmes for those who would like a career in distilling – such as Heriot Watt, where my Father has been on the advisory board for over 15 years.
Lizzie, you’re a Heriot Watt Brewing & Distilling graduate, a university course that is making waves in the drinks industry as more and more alumni take the helm of stills across the world. There’s only so much you can learn beforehand however, do you think it prepped you for working in a distillery, or was it a steep curve once you started?
Lizzie Bailey: The course at Heriot-Watt was focused on preparing the students for work in the industry and provided me with a great technical basis for working at Hayman’s. As the oldest family gin distillers in England and working alongside Christopher Hayman, I have been introduced to distilling techniques that I was previously unfamiliar with and that have been practiced by the family for generations.
We can imagine… Christopher must have quite a few tricks up his sleeve! What’s the best bit about the job?
LB: I very much enjoy the consumer interaction but above all seeing a gin that I’ve made in someone’s hand is deeply rewarding.
For, sure – it’s always amazing to see people enjoy something that you’ve made yourself. What’s the worst bit about the job?
LB: In terms of challenges, a lot of romantic imagery can be associated with distilling yet I am constantly faced with challenges that require me to both think on my feet and refer back to technical theory.
Fair enough, it’s easy to forget there’s a lot of theory and not just quaffing tasty gin to be done! We’ve been asking distillers and gin owners a recurring question over the past year – mainly as it differs so much. What’s the best bit of advice you ever had about distilling gin?
LB: Keep nosing. The profile is continually changing, you need to be aware of how the flavour and aroma is developing and ensure you capture the perfect balance.
Very true, it constantly changes. What about you James? You must have leaned a thing or two off the old man over the years?
JH: Dad is an operations person and therefore is able to cut through the marketing talk and focus on what is important – distilling fine gin. He is insistent that we stay true to our family distilling processes to ensure we maintain our reputation for distilling gin. On the commercial side it is to be clear on what you want to achieve but be able to adapt to changes in the market. Patience is vital in any business and you will always face challenges, but be true to what you want to achieve.
You are in a unique position as the distillery produces all styles of gin through the Hayman’s Range. Specific brands aside (we’ll not force you to name check the competition or choose between one of you children!) – do you both have a preferred style of gin as a whole?
LB: A hard question to answer – very mood and serve dependent, you can’t go wrong with a classic London Dry style though!
JH: For me there are two styles which are of parity and it depends on the place, time and weather. Dry Gin and the English style of Old Tom are my preferred styles. I like to taste the gin in a cocktail and both these styles deliver a variety of gin cocktails.
We’ve always found that it makes a big difference to the way that brands are developed when they family owned and operated, Hayman’s is one of those Gins where it’s not just run by a family member, but by generations of the same family. Do you feel this make a difference to the workplace?
LB: Hugely –it’s a great environment and such a unique position being able to learn from such a knowledgeable and influential gin family.
James, do you feel the home / work life crossover permeates life at the distillery or do you, Miranda and Christopher manage to keep a lot of the personal stuff outside? In many ways a bit of both is a good thing to have no?
JH: As you become more established it is easier to separate home and work as many things are in place. That said if something needs a discussion then we will have it regardless on when it is. I sometimes prefer having conversations out of the distillery as you think in a different way. Long haul flights, holidays are good times to review what you are doing. Dad and I enjoy going to rugby matches and we usually find something to discuss. The three of us genuinely enjoy what we do – we are both respectful and proud of our history, but most importantly determined to continue what the family have been doing for over 150 years.
And long may it continue too! Tough one now, less about office politics but equally perilous to answer wrong..! What’s your favourite classic Gin cocktail and why?
LB: The words ‘classic gin cocktail’ are synonymous with the Martini – a drink that you can take your time with and one that really showcases a great gin – Hayman’s Family Reserve served straight up with a lemon twist.
And finally – What are you most looking forward to this year?
LB: We are working on a couple of projects at the moment. I can’t say too much about at them now but I am rather excited.
Perfectly hinted, with nothing revealed – already media trained then…. Nice work! We’re already looking forward to seeing what you’re all cooking up and wish you both the best for the year ahead. Cheers!
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