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Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin

Review: Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin  92.5/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 24, 2016

Hayman Distillers is the longest-serving family owned gin distiller in England today and they produce a family of gins of differing styles which are each made from their own recipe of botanicals and grain alcohol. They produce each gin separately upon their 450 litre copper pot still which is affectionately called “Marjorie” in a batch style where the botanicals and grain alcohol are steeped for a full day within the still before it is fired up distillation begins.

Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin was created to reflect a past style of gin which could be found in English cities in the 1800s. The recipe for the gin is said to have been developed in 1850. Unlike most English style gins, this gin is rested in Scottish Whisky barrels for three weeks to mellows the overall flavour profile of the spirit. This idea is based upon the fact that until the 1860s gin would more often than not be sold from within an oak cask rather than from the bottle. This meant that the gin was slowly maturing as it was being sold.

My sample bottle of Hayman’s Family Reserve is bottled at 41.3% alcohol by volume.

Hayman's Family ReserveIn the Bottle 4.5/5

Hayman’s Family Reserve arrives in the smokey, medium tall square  bottle shown to the left. This is a limited edition gin, released in batches of 5000 bottles, each being individually numbered. My sample bottle is from batch number 14/01 and is bottle number 4923.

I like the bottle which seems to me to have a masculine appeal. It looks like a gin bottle, yet it also looks different from the other gins on my review shelf such that it stands out. The embossed lettering on the front and back of the bottle helps me to grip it, and the moderately long neck makes pouring easy.

In the Glass 9/10

Some online reviews I have seen indicate that the Family Reserve Gin displays a pale hue which reflects the three weeks the spirit rested in an oak barrel. When I poured my sample into my glass, I looked very carefully for this slight colouration; but alas, if my sample showed a pale hue of colour, it was so pale that I could no distinguish it in the light of my tasting room.

I tilted and twirled my glencairn glass and noticed the gin deposited a slightly thickened sheen upon the inside, the crest of which held for about 10 seconds before dropping slightly fat leglets which broke down and fell quickly back into the gin.

The breezes above the glass told a story of a very traditional gin profile. Soft juniper and light black licorice notes rose into the air followed by pleasing sweet citrus scents (orange and lemon) which mingled freely with the juniper. Some spiciness of citrus zest and coriander are apparent as well with perhaps a very mild sandalwood scent in the background.

I really enjoy the nose, and I like how the juniper is softened by the other botanicals while still remaining dominant in the merry little breezes above the glass.

In the Mouth 56/60

The gin is softer and smoother in the mouth than a typical column distilled London Dry Gin, and the flavours within the spirit seem to meld themselves together more completely. I was very enthused after I took my first sip. The gin continued to display a very traditional profile with juniper and licorice providing the backbone of the flavour, and a ribbon of angelica providing a beguiling soft earthy bitterness underneath. A pleasingly sweet citrus follows across the palate with peppery spice, citrus zest and coriander trailing. Perhaps there is an ever so light smokiness as well.

I mixed a few different cocktails and my enthusiasm continued. Gin and Tonics, Gimlets, and tall Collins-style Cocktails all taste very nice with the Family Reserve. The Gin and Tonic is perhaps softer and less dry than normal; but it is still quite tasty. I also mixed a Martini, and again was quite happy with the results. (I mixed a traditional rather than a dry martini as the softer style of the gin seemed to lend itself to a recipe with more vermouth.) Along with the pleasant approachable flavour profile, the Family Reserve Gin is also a very versatile mixer. My enthusiasm continues.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The gin, when sipped neat, is quite easy on the palate and throat making the tasting session very enjoyable. I taste traces of angelica and licorice left behind, and my throat enjoys a light rush of citrus spice and coriander. The peppery tone of the finish bodes well for cocktails.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Hayman’s Family Reserve has a soft approachable juniper forward flavour which is strongly appealing, and as my scoring indicates, I highly recommend it for not only sipping but also a very versatile mixer.

You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

G&JSAM_2470Here is a new serving of mine which combines Meyers Lemons and Blood Oranges with the goodness of Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin. The recipe is basically the same as Arthur Tarling’s, Red Lion Cocktail, except that I used the aforementioned citrus in place of regular oranges and lemons.

I call the new libation, Playing with the Lions.

Playing with the Lions

1 1/2 oz Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin
3/4 oz Orange Liqueur (Patron Citron)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Meyer’s Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
3/8 oz Sugar syrup
Lemon twist

Add the first five Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon zest twist

And of course enjoy responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:

70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)





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