I first came across Hayman’s gin at the Taste of London food festival in the winter of 2018. I’ve been a gin fan for a good few years and, thanks to the recent gin boom, have tried countless emerging brands. I was expecting Hayman’s to be one of these new, craft varieties, so was surprised to discover they’ve been around since 1863!
Their sloe gin and bitter lemon was an absolute winner, alongside their beautifully designed bottles and signature branded lemon peel garnishes. A tour of their Balham based distillery was firmly placed on the to-do list. I visited with my boyfriend on a cheeky Friday afternoon off work in August.
Gin tour options
Booking was simple. They offer two different gin tour options on their website; the classic tour and tasting (£20) and the tour and tasting with a bonus gin cocktail masterclass (£35). We opted for the classic tour and got £5 off with a voucher from the Taste of London summer festival where we’d paid them another visit.
The distillery is about a 10-minute walk from Balham station so it’s super handy to get to from central London or Clapham Junction. If you fancy a hearty brunch or lunch beforehand to line your stomach, check out Hildreth Street where there’s loads of great cafes and restaurants. We went to Mi1k, a favourite of mine – be sure to order a side of Parmesan topped hash browns!
Our gin tour experience
On first impression, the distillery itself was much smaller than I was expecting. Unsurprisingly, it was beautifully styled with gorgeous furniture and eye-catching displays of their product ranges. We were welcomed warmly and invited to head to the upstairs bar to kick off with a classic, London Dry gin and tonic. A perfect way to start the tour!
Jono and Daryl were our hosts for the afternoon, and both were incredibly knowledgeable about all things gin. After a brief introduction to the history of gin and the growth of the Hayman’s brand, we headed downstairs to the botanicals lab. Here we were introduced to the ten botanicals that make up the Hayman’s gin profile: juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, cinnamon, cassia bark, orris root, liquorice and nutmeg. Who knew?! Darryl talked us through each of them and what they add to the blend in terms of flavour and structure.
I loved being able to see some of the more unusual ingredients up close and give them a try. We then got the chance to make up our own mix using a pestle and mortar and give everyone else’s a sniff. Pretty sure our creation smelt more of feet than gin!
Top tip: make sure you’re paying attention as there may be a prize on offer for those able to answer a question on what you’ve heard…I love winning!
Next up, Jono talked us through the actual distilling process. The shiny copper stills at the distillery really are stunning and all named after the women in the Hayman family!
The gin tasting
After working up a thirst learning about the gin making process, it was time to give some more a try. The tasting table was laid out beautifully and we had three different gins to taste; Old Tom, London Dry and Sloe. Daryl took us through the steps of smelling each first and then trying them gradually to maximise the flavour experience.
I’ve never been much of a fan of drinking spirits straight up but these were tasty! Each was then mixed with a matching tonic for us to finish off. It’s hard to choose a favourite but in the end I think it was the Old Tom (surprising as I love the Sloe variety so much).
As a bonus, Daryl also gave us Hayman’s brand new Summer Cup to try – an alternative to Pimm’s – which had only been released a few days before. The session was super relaxed and we asked plenty of questions as we went along which the guys were happy to answer.
At the point we were feeling a little tipsy we were reminded we got £5 off a full bottle of the core range of gins… we found it rather difficult to resist and came away with three bottles between us!
If you’re looking for something a little bit different to do for an afternoon not far from central London I’d highly recommend heading to Hayman’s for a tour. We enjoyed learning about one of our favourite tipples in such a friendly and fun setting – Daryl in particular has a great sense of humour.
If you’re looking for more inspiration about things to do in London why not read about our favourite afternoon tea and treat yourself to a visit!