The backbone of English gin – a look at family distiller Hayman’s of London

Gin has seen a significant revival in the last 10 years, with a myriad of craft distilleries set up across the UK. Yet a handful of some of the oldest gin companies continue to produce their age-old recipes, using traditional techniques. David Pugh, our Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, takes a look at Hayman’s of London, a family distiller of more than 150 years standing, who show that when it comes to gin, authenticity matters.

Hayman’s of London, based in Balham, was established in 1863, at a time when gin was famed for having medicinal qualities. James Burrough, a charismatic London pharmacist, opened a small distillery in Cale Street, Chelsea experimenting with a range of gin recipes, and pioneering the drier style now known as London Dry Gin.

One of James’ inventions was Beefeater Gin, which was subsequently sold, along with the family business, in 1987. James’ great-grandson, Christopher, disappointed by the sale, promptly bought back one part of the business so he could continue the family’s gin distilling journey.

Today, the Hayman family remains in charge of the distillery, and continues to craft its range of gins using the same recipes developed over 150 years ago. The two-day process begins with Hayman’s chosen botanicals infused in English wheat spirit for an entire day allowing the full natural flavours to develop. Sourced from across the globe, the ten chosen botanicals vary in measure, depending on the style of gin being distilled. Although juniper remains the backbone of each of the gins, other flavours such as cinnamon, nutmeg, angelica, liquorice root and orange and lemon peel are used.

The copper stills in the distillery also echo tradition; all of them are christened after the women in the Hayman family with the current ones bearing the names Marjorie, Karin and Miranda.

These traditional processes are rare when compared with modern gin distillation, but the company have stayed true to their roots convinced that the techniques have continued to ensure that Hayman’s Gin retains its heritage and a pride in the quality of its spirits.

And while the company takes care to uphold these traditional processes, the current owners, James and Miranda Hayman (Christopher’s children) are adamant about pioneering gin for future generations. New innovations include Small Gin; which offers 80% less alcohol and less calories. In producing Small Gin, and reacting to trends including Sober in October and Dry January, the company has been heralded for its innovation with Small Gin picking up a number of awards and accolades including ‘Best Gin’ in the Low/No category in the International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Hayman’s is now based in Balham, South West London, just a few miles from the original family distillery in Chelsea, and Christopher, Hayman’s Master Distiller, still plays an active role, celebrating 50 years of working in gin in 2019.