What’s in a name?… When my wife and I decided to get married, a lot of people asked me the question ‘is Emily going to take your name?’. Which I thought was an odd idea, as it would surely get confusing if we were both called ‘Matt’?!…
Now, other than a witty opening gambit to this blog, there is also an element of irony to that joke (which I used multiple times in the run up to the wedding, to a consistently muted response). Despite having been married since November 2014, my wife is still listed in my phone as ‘Emily Berry’ with her maiden name still very much in tact! It’s actually the way I wrote it down when we first met around 17 years ago and haven’t ever changed.
I guess it will make the phone book admin slightly less laborious when the volume of gin arriving at the house reaches the tipping point for an inevitable divorce! (I jest – she can’t stay mad at this face for too long. I’m adorable!)…
But the latest arrival on my doorstep provided an important answer to my question; it turns out that there’s a lot in a name. Particularly in the gin industry when your name is ‘Hayman’!
Having recently launched their brand spanking new ‘Exotic Citrus’ expression, bolstering their renowned and well established lineup, I was honoured to have the opportunity to sample a gin that sounded very much ‘up my street’! (have I mentioned my infatuation with juniper and citrus forward gins much?!).
Hayman’s Gin; Sticks & Stones…
The Hayman’s Gin story is made up of a rich 150 year tapestry and can be dated back to as early as 1863, when pharmacist James Burrough (the great grandfather of Christopher Hayman, 4th generation and Master Distiller at Hayman’s Gin) pioneered the London Dry style of gin in his small distillery on Cale Street, Chelsea.
With the brand now being ran by Christopher’s children, James and Miranda, the trio work alongside each other to craft their award winning portfolio of gins that still maintain the same family recipes that were developed over 150 years ago!
But why, you ask, is this pursuit of quality and passion for gin making so important to them? Well – because it’s got their name on it! The Hayman’s name is an institution within gin. And it stands for something far more than just an alcoholic spirit in a bottle…
It stands for an assured level of unwavering quality, flavour and attention to detail. The Hayman’s team use only the finest botanicals as part of their traditional two-day distilling process, where the natural flavours are allowed to really shine. There are certain levels of expectation when you pick up a Hayman’s gin, and the family see it as their mission to never disappoint.
It stands for credibility and trust. Indeed, James and Miranda spearheaded the ‘Call Time on Fake Gin’ movement. It was a campaign to drive some much needed focus and a spotlight on to brands and areas of the category that were (…are) trying to stretch the meaning of gin beyond its legal definition, often at the expense of unknowing customers who can be duped in to buying substandard ‘gins’ as a result of unclear labelling and clever marketing (or lies. Call it what you will.).
It stands for class. The Hayman’s name brings with it a stellar reputation, that oozes class. I have been lucky enough to visit the Hayman’s distillery for a Gin Foundry event a number of years ago ‘B3YOC’ (that stands for ‘before 3 year old child’) and was blown away by the pristine sophistication that drips from the walls.
And it’s a theme that carries right through the brand. You need only look at one of their stunningly beautiful and iconic bottles, that strong family name embossed on the glass and planted firmly front and centre on each label, to know that you’re holding something rather special.
It also stands for innovation. It’s a name that has provided a strong foundation on which James and Miranda now continue to build on, to pioneer gin making. Examples like ‘Hayman’s Small Gin’ are case and point, where they have crafted a spirit that creates a low alcohol and low calorie G&T but with no compromise on the taste. It is so packed with flavour that you only need to use a thimble of liquid to each G&T – a 20cl bottle gives you 40 serves, compared to 28 serves in a 70cl Hayman’s London Dry. wow.
Hayman’s; a taste of the exotic…
Now we’ve already touched on the impressive Hayman’s back catalogue, which features their London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, Gently Rested Gin, Royal Dock Gin, Sloe Gins, Hopped Gin, Rare Cut Gin, as well as a gin liqueur, a Peach & Rose Fruit Cup and the aforementioned Small Gin. So what can we expect with the ‘new kid on the block’ in their Exotic Citrus Gin?
The Exotic Citrus Gin, building on the base of the London Dry, features kumquat, pomelo, Persian lime and mandarin, with hand selected and sun dried citrus peels used to drive the depth of flavour synonymous with their range. In their launches accompanying press release, James Hayman went on to explain;
“As the first London Gin Distilling family to include citrus as a key botanical, this is a natural evolvement for us – we are simply adding a delicious exotic citrus flavour to our style of gin. At a time when the consumer is increasingly more conscious about natural ingredients – it’s a gin with additional flavour that is naturally distilled from botanicals”.
With my thirst for knowledge adequately quenched, it was time to quell a thirst of an entirely different nature. With stopper popped and pen poised, I was going in. Things were about to get fruity…
Hayman’s Exotic Citrus Gin to taste
On the nose, the gin is lively and vibrant. It carry’s bright notes of sweet citrus, alongside a robust and more classic crunch of juniper pine. Oranges, tangerine and mandarine feel the boldest of flavours to note, with an exotic blast of pomelo across the aroma.
To say that ‘you’d still know this is a gin’ sounds like a very basic tasting note and fairly fundamental criteria for…well, a gin. But all too many times the true character of what a gin should be is lost to the pursuit of an overly dominant fruited profile. Not here.
Yes, you get exotic citrus – you’d be disappointed not to right?! But there is still a reassuring spiced warmth to the vapours, carrying a sense of the classic and familiar on the back notes from the Hayman’s award winning gin base.
To taste neat, and wow! You really do have to take your hat off to this spirit. It is absolutely delicious!
The sweet, vivid, tropical orange flavours deliver tones of clementine, tangerine and mandarin, with hints of an almost pineapple and mango freshness to the background (most likely from the kumquat and pomelo). The sharpness of the citrus is also amped up on the tasting, with that Persian lime really coming in to its own!
For a brief moment, I am transported back to my childhood, by a flavour profile reminiscent of orange Opal Fruit sweets (which were always my favourites, and I refuse to acknowledge them as ‘Star Burst’!). Though I must stress, it’s the flavour profile, rather than alcohol, that takes me back to my childhood!
There is a real sense of ‘tang’ coming from the citrus inclusions. The gin uses all natural botanicals, and it tells on the tasting – there is never once a suggestion of the fake or synthetic. It really is a delight to drink!
As with the nose, the namesake exotic citrus character combines well with the more classic sensibilities of the teams flagship offering. A rich earthy sweetness of cassia and liquorice wash over the palate, working in perfect harmony with the citrus, and enhancing the feel of the delicate sweetness. It is perfectly balanced against a warming hint of spice, with light herbaceous whispers of coriander on the back of the throat. Perhaps most pleasingly of all, though you would expect nothing less of Hayman’s, is the fact that robust and resinous notes of plump juniper are retained and ever present throughout.
There’s a really pleasant longevity to the finish, with the botanical oils coating the tongue and lingering long after each sip. It really does leave you to fully appreciate the complexity and depth of flavour of the gin, and draws you back in for more.
Hayman’s Exotic Citrus Gin to serve
I would genuinely sip this gin neat over ice and be quite happy about it too! The craftsmanship that has gone in to the development of flavour really is something to behold and has me captivated. However, I appreciate that, that is not necessarily a serve to please the masses!
With the addition of a Mediterranean or Light premium tonic water, the mouthfeel softens and the subtle spice becomes a little more muted. But in its place steps forwards an explosion of citrus flavour, with a sweet kiss of mandarin accentuated by bursts of pomelo and kumquat. The fresh orange garnish only serves to complement the bright and brilliant citrus profile of the longer serve, hitting new and lofty heights of almost freshly squeezed tangerine proportions! And it must be said that it drinks beautifully from the signature Hayman’s highball glass, topped to the brim with ice!
As the cocktail evolves, so too does the intensity of the flavours and the aroma. It’s unrelenting and absolutely delicious. I would go as far as to say that this is one of the best gin and tonics I’ve had in a long time – if not ever. It’s very clever in its ability to transcend creativity and depth of flavour, with traditional sensibilities. Certainly my G&T find of 2021 hands down.
This is a summer sipper for sure, and almost makes you forget about the dismal weather of 2021 to date!
In the Martini, things moved from the sublime to the ridiculously good!
Stirred down until ice cold, served dry with Cocchi Americano Bianco vermouth and a lemon twist, and this is an absolute indulgent treat!
The stone fruits of the vermouth pair beautifully well with the exotic citrus of the gin. It delivers on the vibrant and sweet orange notes and then some – it’s perhaps a tad sweeter than I would normally lean towards, but it is utterly delicious. And as always, the juniper continues to stand up for itself and leave you in little doubt that this really is something quite special.
Like a traditional Negroni, served in equal 1:1:1 parts gin, vermouth and bitters, the exotic twist provides an elevated brightness and sweetness of mandarin and tangerine, rather than the more classic burnt bitter orange.
A superb play on a the short serve classic cocktail that I would return to time and time again.
Hayman’s; I know your name…
The Hayman’s Exotic Citrus Gin is yet another example of the brand living up to its name; its bloody brilliant.
Yes it’s used some quirky botanicals to push the boundaries of what citrus gin can be. Yes it’s another ‘first’ for the family that adds yet another string to their bow. But all of that said, it never forgets what it is and the true fundamentals of what a gin should be. Coming from a dynasty of longstanding history and classic credentials, this is a gin that delivers on the reputation of its name with aplomb.
Hayman’s Exotic Citrus Gin is available to buy now from the teams website for £28 for a 70cl bottle.
With huge thanks to James, Miranda and the Hayman’s team for my complementary bottle of their Exotic Citrus Gin!
Be sure to follow their story across the website and their social media pages – I can’t wait to see what is lined up for the next 150 years!:
Social Media: @haymansgin
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Stop by, say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!