Hayman’s Distillery has its origins in the early days of gin distilling in London. In fact, the original company was acquired by none other than James Burrough of Beefeater Gin fame. The Hayman family worked in distilling for five generations before Christopher Hayman, the great great grandson of James Burrough, brought the Hayman name back to the fore of gin distilling.
They’ve since launched a series of gins under the Hayman’s family name, all of which are now distilled in house in Witham at the family distillery. Botanically, Hayman’s line of gins don’t pull any punches— in fact they’re fairly quotidian. However, each gin in the family’s line uses a different and ratio of those ingredients to different affect based on strength and intention.
Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin is their high proof offering, bottled at the legendary proof point where supposedly soaked gunpowder will still ignite. The gin is named for the Royal Dock in Deptford, just outside London along the Thames river where it was once one of the most important shipbuilding yards in England.
By the 1860’s, the time at which the Hayman family was supplying gin to officers in the Royal Navy, the dock at Deptford was a shadow of its former glory. Shipbuilding was entirely shut down at Deptford by 1869. No longer the center of shipbuilding, it did have an important function as a victualling yard, which it continued to do so until a century later. So naturally, if your gin was to make it on to the ship, it needed to go through Deptford.
Perfectly classic styled nose which hits all the expected marks. Lots of crisp pine-accented juniper, with hints of angelica, coriander and citrus zest. The citrus notes are particularly what stand out for me and what sets it apart.
The palate has a lovely, thick, creamy mouth feel. Zesty orange peel and dried lemon accompany a heady, unabiding juniper dominated mid-palate. Classic, straight-forward pine note accented juniper. The finish is where an intriguing subtlety almost changes the entire profile. A gentle dash of floral, violet, sweet orange.
The finish is exceptionally long, generally citrus and juniper forward, with bitter orange and pine enduring and fading slowly, receding with a pleasant but omnipresent heat.
Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin is an exquisite mixing gin. I’d suggest that although it makes a good (flavor-wise) Gin and Tonic, or Gimlet, the Hayman’s Regular Strength Gin works better in those kind of mixed drinks.
But for cocktail work? The high strength and botanical intensity means that bartenders may find it unparalleled. I think it could well be the gold standard, along with Plymouth Navy Strength Gin.
The citrus and intense juniper punch complements creamy violet, amplifying those surprising finishing notes in an Aviation. Herbal, bright fennel like character seems to evolve when mixed with Absinthe in a Last Word or an Alaska Cocktail. The Martini is a bit harsh, so either stir with a large amount of wet ice, or go for a throwback 1:1 Martini with a dash of citrus bitters.
But the list of cocktails where this really works well is impressive. I love the pine accent in the Clover Club, or the way that it seemingly comes out nowhere in the Singapore Sling to add a juniper note you rarely get amidst the cacophony of other ingredients.
Bartenders, if you’re not using Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin at your bar, you’d be well advised to take a closer look at. Home cocktail lovers will also appreciate the versatility and the way it adds a classic gin note to any drink you make with it.
Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin is a top notch mixing gin, which honestly is what you look for out of the style. With a well crafted classic gin palate, a nicely balanced botanical strength, it really is a classic Navy Strength Gin that you can turn to reliably.
But other than that, it’s a lovely classic styled gin that fans of the style would be remiss if they didn’t check out for themselves.