Food & Drink

Gin dynasty excited about future at new Balham distillery

A lifelong ambition has brought a family with five generations of gin-ology back home to London.

After 13 years in Witham, Essex, the Hayman family have moved production of their eponymous gin to Balham – just four miles from the place where their first dry gin was distilled in 1863.

The recipes of founder James Burrough are still those used today, only now it’s great-grandson Christopher Hayman and his son and daughter, James and Miranda, who are now at the helm.

Fifth generation James Hayman said: “It has been a longstanding ambition for me, my sister Miranda and our father to bring the family distillery back to London — where our story first started over 150 years ago.”

Tucked away in an unassuming warehouse on Weir Road, the distillery is something of an Aladdin’s cave.

Once through the doors, visitors are greeted with three impossibly shiny copper stills (affectionately named Marjorie, Miranda and Karin after women in the family), a kitchen laboratory, mezzanine bar, lounge area and a statement central wooden table where the all-important gin tasting takes place.

The family wanted to create a homely feel, styling the slick but cosy distillery on the London gin houses of old.

The business has had an interesting history, after being relocated, sold and bought back by a family who couldn’t bear to part with it.

James recalls feeling passionate about it from an early age.

He said: “At the age of four or five (I remember) going to the distilleries, seeing dad, seeing the stills.

“We weren’t allowed to try the gin, but the aromas that came off the stills were absolutely fantastic.”

With the UK still gripped by gin fever, the Hayman family couldn’t be happier that we are embracing and learning more about a national favourite.

“The great thing about gin is that it transcends all age groups,” Miranda Hayman added.

“There is a real interest in providence and authenticity now with people wanting to know where their gin comes from.”

Gin has seen a resurgence in popularity with the value of British gin sales doubling in the last six years to be worth £1.2 billion today.

Visitors to the distillery will be able to sample some of the family’s winning formula – and discover their unique two-day distilling process – through tours and tasting sessions, with plans to host cocktail masters classes and gin suppers.

And Miranda admitted the family are thrilled about their new South London base

She said: “What we really want to do is welcome everyone here, learn how we make our gin, really get involved – that’s really important for us.”

“Balham’s already got a good community which we’ve already been involved with and they’ve been really welcoming.”

The distillery is an ambitious project, but the passion of the family is undeniable… you could say it’s in their gin-es.


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