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The Hayman family is the UK’s oldest gin distilling dynasty. It is currently headed by Christopher Hayman, one of the world’s most experienced ‘gin masters’ with 40 years of experience, and legatee to great grandfather James Burrough, creator of Beefeater Gin. With his son and daughter, Christopher continues to make classic styles of English gins to family recipes.
The Hayman story starts with James Burrough, a London distiller who, in the 1860s, created Beefeater Gin. Formerly a pharmacist, in 1863 James Burrough paid £400 to purchase John Taylor & Son, a Chelsea-based firm of gin distillers and liqueur makers which had been founded in 1820. He renamed the company 'James Burrough, Distiller and Importer of Foreign Liqueurs' and established a good reputation with a client base that included fancy food shop Fortnum & Mason.
James used his skills as a chemist to perfect the firm’s gins and liqueurs. Tellingly, one of his early recipe books listing a recipe for blackcurrant gin is dated 1849, predating his purchase of the distillery by 14 years. The business thrived and by 1876 papers show that the company's large portfolio included gin brands such as James Burrough London Dry, Ye Old Chelsea and Beefeater.
In 1897 James Burrough died and his sons, Frederick, Ernest and Frank, took over the running of the business. They continued to prosper and in 1906 purchased premises across the river at 26 Hutton Road, Lambeth. They equipped the new distillery with the latest stills from J Dore & Sons and named the new site Cale Distillery in memory of their old premises in Cale Street, Chelsea.
In the early 1930-40s, the third generation entered the family business and Eric Burrough drove the company forward with his cousins Alan and Norman. Rapid growth necessitated their moving to larger premises in Montford Place, Kennington, in 1958. This distillery near the Oval Cricket Ground remains Beefeater Gin’s home today but by the late 1970s was one of a number of sites owned by James Burrough Ltd, which by this time was selling a huge range of liqueurs. The Fine Alcohols Division based at a site in Witham, Essex supplied pure alcohol to the drink, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as well as bottling numerous gins and other products.
By the 1960s, the company’s shares were held by many extended family members but the board comprised of James Burrough’s living grandchildren, Alan Burrough and Norman Burrough, with their sister Marjorie Burrough represented by her husband, Neville Hayman, who happened to be an accountant.
The company remained family-owned, with Norman Burrough as chairman, until October 1987 when the majority of family decided to sell to Whitbread. This was partly driven by the recent threat of grain products, including gin, being banned from import into the USA, their main export market. The Hayman side of the family were against the sale but there were some 150 members of the family who held shares, the vast majority of which were not involved in the running of the business.
Christopher Hayman (the son of Marjorie Burrough and Neville Hayman) had started working for the company in 1969, moving from department to department to experience all aspects of the rapidly growing business. After the Whitbread deal went through, he became operations director of Whitbread Spirits Group, responsible for production at Laphroaig, Ardmore, Tormore and Strathclyde distilleries in Scotland, as well as the Beefeater Distillery in London. Although Christopher liked the challenge of running so many distilleries, he decided that working for a conglomerate was not for him and yearned to return to a family business.
His opportunity came when the results of a management consultancy report commissioned by Whitbread advised it to sell James Burrough Limited’s Fine Alcohols Division (F.A.D.). When Christopher heard the Witham plant was going to be sold he, backed by other members of the Hayman Family, negotiated to purchase F.A.D. from Whitbread to maintain his family’s involvement with the gin industry. This business made and contract-bottled numerous third-party gins and other products and today is known as Hayman Limited. With Christopher’s purchase of F.A.D. on 17th November 1988 came three bottling lines. Subsequently, he also became a major shareholder of Thames Distillers in South London, so maintained his direct involvement in gin distillation.
Christopher, initially created gins for a number of markets such as the USA and Japan. However, in September 2004, now joined by his son James and daughter Miranda launched Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur. They expanded the range and set out to create different styles of classic English gins under the Hayman’s label, recreating old products from the family’s recipe books rather than making new modern gins with unusual botanicals.
With Christopher’s interest in Thames Distillers, understandably production of Hayman’s gins was undertaken at Thames’ Clapham, south London home. However, the Hayman family wanted to bring distilling in-house, back to their Witham site where they bottled Hayman gins. So, fittingly, 150 years after their ancestor James Borough entered the gin distilling business, on 6th June 2013, the Hayman’s family installed a German-made Christian Carl Still.
New bottles launched in August 2013 complete the family’s celebration of 150 years of distilling and mimic a bottle from the family archives dating from 1947, the year that Christopher Hayman was born. The bottle design incorporates the Hayman family crest which includes a cat, a reference to Old Tom gin, the insignia of the school all three members of the family attended, juniper sprigs and droplets, a reference to the family’s five generations of gin distilling.