We caught up with Miranda Hayman, the great-great-granddaughter of the pioneer of Hayman’s Gin, to find out what makes the brand so unique.
Unlike many of the other gins distilled today, Hayman’s Gin has been produced just as it would have been when the family started distilling over 150 years ago. Each of the gins benefits from a traditional two-day process, thereby allowing the flavours to develop and marry, before the gentle heat of the small-batch copper pot still is introduced.
LM: Hayman’s Gin has been around since 1863 and through five generations. How did the story begin?
MH: The story begins over 155 years ago with my great-great-grandfather, James Hayman, when he started distilling gin in London. Thanks to our heritage, we continue to use the same gin recipes and distilling processes that have been handed down through the generations to make our range of true English gins.
LM: There are a plethora of gins out there. What makes Hayman’s Gin so different?
MH: We are the only original family of gin distillers still making gin today. We remain true to our heritage and use the same family recipes and two-day distillation process which lie at the heart of making a balanced English gin. A little-known fact is that my great-great-grandfather was a pioneer of the “London Dry” style. When he started making gin, Old Tom Gin, the precursor to London Dry, was still the gin of choice in London.
Not only is it important to make London Dry in London, but also that we still follow the original two-day process of creating London Dry. For various reasons, this process is not used by others, but for us, a full-flavoured and balanced London Dry gin must be made over a period of two days.
LM: Responsible drinking and the Sober Movement are really taking off. What has Hayman’s contribution been to this?
MH: We have been closely watching the growing trend for low and non-alcoholic drinks, with people being more mindful about what and when they drink. We recently launched Hayman’s Small Gin, which is a game-changer for the category, and we feel it’s the greatest innovation since the style of London Dry gin was pioneered.
Rather than reducing the level of alcohol, we decided to dial up the flavour – Small Gin is so full flavoured that only 5ml (a thimbleful) is needed to make low alcohol, low calorie, but real tasting gin and tonic. It has 80% less alcohol and calories than a standard measure of London Dry. Every bottle comes with a thimble, and each bottle, despite being small in size, will give you 40 gin and tonics, compared to 28 in a standard 70cl receptacle.
LM: Tell us a bit about the stills and how they work?
MH: We have three copper pot stills, which lie at the very heart of our distillery. Stills are traditionally named after women, and our stills are called “Marjorie” after my grandmother, “Karin” after my mother, and our smallest still, which we use for limited releases and innovation, is named after me! My father and brother often say they feel they are being kept an eye on!
We steep the botanicals in our copper pots stills for a full day to allow the flavours to infuse into the English wheat spirit. Our botanicals are gently steeped with English wheat spirit in our copper pot still, Marjorie, for a full day before we gently distil on the second day to create a more balanced nuanced character.
LM: Let’s talk about botanicals. This seems like a minefield to us. How do you know which ones will work and what are the core ingredients to make a good gin?
MH: As a family, we use the same botanicals that my great-great-grandfather used 150 years ago.
We make gin with the same 10 classic botanicals sourced from all over the world, but in different quantities in all of our styles. We carefully ensure all our botanicals have the right oil content and flavours.
Juniper is the most important botanical, as it is the backbone to a balanced style of gin, and is supported by the fresh citrus flavours from orange and lemon peel, warmth from spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, earthy notes from Angelica and a little sweetness from liquorice root.