Before small local breweries picked up the gin craft, there were families who were making gin for decades and now one such family has decided to bring their 150-year-old recipes of refined historical gin to South Africa’s shores.

Hayman’s Gin is more than a trend or juniper-based alcohol – it is a well-kept secret that goes back to 1863 when a tiny gin store opened on Cale Street in London and has been in the family ever since.

Father, son and daughter testing their family gin.

Back in the 1700s, the first gin craze began in London because the English brought back gin from Holland that was called Jenever or Genever.

It was the magical substance that gave the Dutch their courage during the war and it soon became so popular in London that the average person drank four-pints, the equivalent of almost two-litres a week, and one in three homes were distilling their own in their bathtubs.

It was then that the Hayman’s family took up gin making and never looked back again.

Christopher Hayman tends to his gin batch

Now after generations of gin distilling, master distiller, Christopher Hayman is still in the business at the age of 70 with 50 years of experience, ensuring that the Hayman’s Gin is a true English gin as his father and grandfather did before him.

No expense or effort is spared in the process of distilling each and every bottle to perfection and ensuring its quality beyond doubt.

To produce the perfect bottle of Hayman’s Gin, 10 handpicked botanicals are used in special quantities according to handwritten recipes from the family archive.

A traditional two-day process is used, that has been handed down for generations, in order to ensure that the botanical flavours are better drawn into the gin.

Unique to Hayman’s Gin is the use of the Orris root that allows the flavours and scents of the gin to better linger and envelope the taste buds.

The Hayman’s family currently make three variants of gin namely, the classic London Dry, Old Tom and the Sloe Gin.

Unfortunately for us South Africans, the Sloe Gin is not yet available here but both the London Dry and the Old Tom are.

Gin-lovers who prefer a classic G&T or gin and soda should opt for the London Dry, as it is a classic taste paired well with almost anything you add. This is also a good gin option for those looking to mix cocktails or add their own flavours.

The more adventurous gin drinkers should definitely opt for an Old Tom as it is packed with flavour and contains larger quantities of botanical goodness. This is even a perfect gin to drink clean due to its smooth nature and sweet notes on the tongue.

Beyond drinking gin, as with everything else in life, things that are done with passion are done well and the same goes for distilling gin. It is not an exaggeration to say that Hayman’s Gin is one of the most meticulously made in the world and has a long-standing history that made it what it is today.

The master distiller in charge of this bottled history is one of only two people in existence to be part of the Gin Hall of Fame.

“In the 1970s gin was a martini, it was a luxurious lifestyle, but now gin is more relaxed and more popular. There’s higher degree of professionalism and I’ve been 50 years in the trade and I can honestly say, thank God I never did anything else,” said Christopher Hayman Master Distiller.

Pictures: Facebook/Hayman’s Gin

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