Sadly, I had to scoot out on the way too early side of a Hayman’s Gin masterclass with fifth generation distiller, James Hayman, a couple of Fridays ago. Luckily, I was able to stay long enough to learn a bit about the Hayman family and their nearly 150 year old connection to gin and to sip a bit of his family’s fine hooch.
First, the history lesson:
The Hayman family are the longest serving gin distilling family in England. The origin of Hayman Distillers dates back to 1863 when Christopher Hayman’s Great Grandfather, James Burrough, purchased a gin rectifying company in London. Following the sale of the original firm – Beefeater gin – in the late 1980s, the Hayman family retained part of the business. Today the Haymans continue the tradition of distilling and producing fine spirits. With five generations of expertise within Hayman Distillers, this “in house” family knowledge has been applied in developing a range of gins. The family’s gins are made using recipes from the archives and research along with modern methods of production to recreate traditional gin styles.
Now, on to the hooch:
Hayman’s is a good and intriguing range: there’s an 1850 Reserve, a London Dry, a botanically intensive Old Tom, a sloe gin, a Royal Dock (“senior service” navy style), and even a gin liqueur. In particular, the London Dry Gin seems a proper spirit for cocktails. James Hayman would want you to know it’s worth a taste due to its “careful and consistent balance of juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel which is vital in crafting a classic style” of a London dry gin. I’d go along with that.
The Hayman’s Gin masterclass was held at Reform Social and Grill. Located within the Mandeville Hotel, it’s rolling along with the whole Victorian gin parlour schtick that’s apparently still fashionable. They do it well too, and the bartenders seemed to be a competent sort. Luckily, the space retains some of upscale comfort associated with the Mandeville.