Hayman’s Distillery – Master’s Distillery Visit

In attendance – Chris Porter, Chris Searle (Upper Warden), Sue Searle, Lorne MacKillop (Middle Warden), Nick Carr (Renter Warden), Louise Carr, Past Master Charles Maxwell, Peter Baxendale (Upper Bailiff, Waever’s Company) and Amy Wyatt-Jones (Partner, John Lewis & Partners and Master’s god-daughter!)

The final distillery visit of my year, took me back to London. Hayman’s splendidly spotless gin distillery in Balham, was founded by their Master Distiller, Christopher Hayman.

Christopher was our Master in 2004-2005 and has been an active and contributing Past Master of the Livery ever since. Christopher was also instrumental as a founder of The Gin Guild, helping establish and launch it in 2012 as a subsidiary of our Worshipful Company of Distillers. The Guild now has over 400 members.    

It seemed highly historically appropriate that I should have been celebrating with Beefeater last week at the Tower, since The Hayman gin distilling story started in 1863 with one, James Burrough. It was his work created the recipes for Burrough’s, Olde Chelsey, Beefeater and Black Cat gins.

It was James who also developed a drier style that we know today as London Dry Gin.

James was the great grandfather of Christopher Hayman. In 1987 when the family business was sold, Christopher had the foresight to buy back part of the business in order for the family’s gin distilling journey to continue.

Now based in Balham, South West London, Christopher’s children James and Miranda run the day to day business, whilst Christopher, as Master Distiller, still has an active role in the distillery process.

We were warmly welcomed (for that read within two minutes we had a gin & tonic in our hands!) and sat comfortably whilst Christopher explained the family history, creating the product and building the brand to the success it enjoys today.

We spent time in the botanicals room and competitively pestle’d and mortar’d our way through to find our own perfect expression of the blend of juniper with the citrus, cinnamon, nutmeg, angelica and liquorice and orris root available for our experiments.

The serious business of tasting Hayman’s Old Tom, Dry and Sloe Gins then took place, expertly tutored by Ted, our tasting guide, enabling a full appreciation of each experience.

In 2019, Christopher’s 50 years of working in gin was celebrated by a presentation to him from James and Miranda of a special distillation, Hayman’s Rare Cut (the London Dry cut at 50%)

Whilst having adjourned to the upstairs in house bar for a most welcome and brilliantly prepared negroni cocktail, I was presented with one such bottle of Rare Cut, signed by Christopher, Miranda and James as a contribution from Hayman’s for my Master’s Case for the 350th Anniversary Appeal

A most enjoyable dinner at local hostelry, The Devonshire capped off what was a fascinating and enjoyable visit.

It was the perfect way to sign off from my Year as Master and from the visits I have completed each month to celebrate and promote the product and the people in this fantastic industry.

All unforgettable in their own unique ways, with warm hospitality and, of course, generosity of spirit in abundance.

Chris Porter
Master 2021 – 22