There Is No Family Quite as Connected as a Family That Makes Gin. This Is Proof

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(illustration: Elizabeth Reyes)

In the world of spirits, there are families that date back centuries who are still distilling today. One such family is the Haymans, who have a history that goes back 150 years and brings together two of the biggest gin brands in Britain.

The story begins in 1863, when James Burrough, a chemist and pharmacist, first began producing his own gin. He had recently purchased John Taylor & Son, a gin distillery based in Chelsea, and from there he went on to create his own brand. Today, that brand is known as Beefeater. In the 1800s, however, it was known as James Burrough, Distiller and Importer of Foreign Liqueurs and had a renowned reputation in London and the U.K. at large.

His skills in chemistry came in handy when creating gin recipes, which was something he had been doing even before he bought the distillery. By 1876, he had at least three gins in his portfolio, including Beefeater, Ye Old Chelsey and James Burrough London Dry.

James died in 1897, and the business was passed on to his three sons, Ernest, Frank and Frederick. Fortunately for the company, James’ sons were as innovative and enterprising as their father had been. They expanded the business in 1906 by buying a new site, naming it Cale Distillery after their original Chelsea location.

(illustration: Elizabeth Reyes)

Beefeater saw great success under the leadership of the three men and was eventually passed on to the third generation of the Burrough family, Eric. Eric took the business to new heights and expanded once again into the Kennington site that the Beefeater Gin Distillery still inhabits to this day.

When Eric passed away in the 1970s, without any children, the company was handed over to his cousins, Alan and Norman. Now known as James Burrough Ltd., the company continued to grow and sold many different types of liqueurs, as well as owning multiple sites across the country.

(illustration: Elizabeth Reyes)

The company continued on in the hands of James Burrough’s grandchildren, Alan, Norman and Marjorie. Norman became chairman of the board, and while controlling shares were owned by these three, there were up to 150 extended family members who also owned shares. Marjorie was married to Neville Hayman, who represented her on the board and was a talented accountant.

In 1987, it was decided by the extended family that the company should be sold on to Whitbread. This was a decision that was greatly protested by the Hayman side of the family, who at this stage included Marjorie and Neville’s son, Christopher.

(illustration: Elizabeth Reyes)

Christopher had been an important part of the company since 1969, and when the Whitbread deal went through, he became director of operations for the Whitbread Spirits Group. He continued to work at Whitbread, but when the opportunity came for him to buy back the James Burrough Fine Alcohols Division, he jumped at the chance. This was a part of the original James Burrough company that produced pure alcohol for commercial use.

As well as buying back this portion of his family’s original company, Christopher became shareholder of Thames Distillers Ltd. This gave him the opportunity to continue his family’s involvement in gin production.

It wasn’t until 2004, when he was joined by his children, James and Miranda, that Christopher launched Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur for the U.K. market. Within a few years, not only were the descendants of the Burrough’s family producing gin again, but they were also based at the Witham site in Essex, where one of the family’s original distilleries had been.

The family continues to make amazing gin today, although few people know of their connection to Beefeater. They maintain a deep connection to their ancestry and have dedicated their German-made Christian Carl still to Christopher’s mother, Marjorie.

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