• Jonathan Winters

Hayman's of London Old Tom Gin


A classic Old Tom which stands up well today.


Review Hayman’s of London Old Tom Gin

Made in London, England, by Hayman Distillers.

Base: Grain

Method: Christian Carl copper pot still

41.4% alcohol/82.8 proof


Botanicals 10: juniper, coriander, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica, orris root, nutmeg, licorice, cinnamon and cassia bark


Style: Old Tom Gin


Hayman’s, (actually it’s Hayman’s of London) has a bit of a history with gin, in fact it dates back to the 1860s, when then pharmacist James Burrough purchased a distillery in London in 1863. He produced a number of gins - most famously Beefeater. However he also made plenty of other gins, mainly old tom style gins which were the preferred gins in England at that time.


The business remained family owned until 1987 when the majority of the family sold the business to the conglomerate Whitbread & Co. Just a year later Whitbread spun off most of its spirit portfolio including the James Burrough Limited fine alcohol division. The buyer of the division was James Burrough’s great grandson Christopher Hayman, and a good chunk of the Hayman family purchased it and changed the name to Hayman’s.


The family dug out the original old recipe books, installed and started reproducing (and I suspect modifying) classic gins made by James Burrough. And since old tom gin came back into favor after the introduction of Tanqueray Malacca, one of the 13 gins (and related spirits) they produced had to be this old tom style gin. And upon it's introduction in 2007 this one was a standout.


In terms of marketing their bottles aren’t fancy - they come in a bottle designed after a 1947 bottle that the gins used to be sold in, with a paper label and cork. Like most old tom gins this one is sweetened with a touch of sugar.


So how does this hold up today. let's crack the bottle open and find out.


Tasting notes


Now old tom gins are generally among the better sipping gins for those who like their gin on the rocks. And if you like a touch of sweetness Hayman’s Old Tom will probably be right up your alley. I do think this is best served over ice, as chilled but neat, I found the ethanol base was just a bit overwhelming. But just add ice, and a minute or two later the gin mellowed nicely. It still had a bit of a sharp tang, but the sweet and citrus notes of the gin did come though.


On the nose this gin is somewhat sharp initially with a good head of astringent ethanol dominating the initial inhalation or two. Once you get beyond that you’ll find a strong zesty lemon scent, pine, and a slight balancing note that can only be from the licorice root.


The major note here is citrus, but it’s nowhere near as sharp as it is in many citrus forward gins, it’s mellow, smooth and quite seductive with it’s citrus and sweetness at the very front of the flavor profile with juniper, angelica and spice, notably just enough heat from the cinnamon and cassia to be noted. The finish has just a very faint touch of orris and licorice to round it out.


It has a creamy smooth mouthfeel and coats the tongue well with a long lingering finish ending with a heat from the spice, not the ethanol content.


Mixability:


There are certain drinks that were made for (and with) old tom gins, that are just better that way. But for some cocktails that just isn’t true. That said, I ran though my usual classic range before making any judgments.


In making a gin and tonic with Hayman’s Old Tom I suggest you lean heavily towards more bitter, less sugary tonics, like Boylan Heritage or Q Indian tonic, as the gin will add a touch of sweetness and will overwhelm many popular tonics. This in my opinion was the weakest drink I made with Hayman’s Old Tom, I just found it too sweet, and not quite balanced enough for me.


I had some similar issues with a martini, BUT I was able to balance it better with a heavier pour of vermouth (dolin in this case) going to a classic ratio of 2:1 and garnishing with a pimento stuffed Queen olive. And while I can’t say I’d order this in a bar or restaurant, I’ve been served far worse martinis. That said there are far better citrus forward gins for martinis.


For a more complex mixed drink I looked to the classics where old tom is meant to shine - in this case a Tom Collins (the Tom of course signifying the type of gin this cocktail was meant to be made with. In that it was outstanding.


Overall


Hayman’s was one of the first to come out in the old tom gin revival back in the 2000s (it actually launched in 2007) and it’s stood the test of time. As far as old tom gins go, even though the competition has grown, this is still among the best out there. It’s certainly not meant for every drink, or every drinker, but for certain drinks, notably those that were created with old tom like the French 75, Tom Collins, Martinez, or an Astoria cocktail you’ll find it elevates them nicely.


If you were rating this as an Old Tom and not using our general scale for gin, it would rate a solid 90. But as a every day gin, it doesn’t rate quite as highly.


Flavor profile:

Spice 2/5

Herbal: 1/5

Juniper 3/5

Floral 1/5

Citrus 3.5/5

Heat 3/5


Rating (Sipping): 86 - a good sipping gin on the rocks.

Rating (Mixing) 86 - Solid as a rock in drinks that call for old tom gin, not so great for most drinks that are designed with London dry in mind.

Overall rating: 86 - One of the better Old Tom gins on the market.


 

What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.


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