I suppose if my last name was Beefeater, Bombay or Tanqueray I’d drink something else, but ever since some random Google ego-search turned up Hayman’s Gin, I knew what we’d be drinking from now on. Gin and Tonic is the most favoured drink at our summer cottage going back generations, so we’ve been acquiring a nice collection of Hayman’s products, and, occasionally, even drinking some.
Recently I learned of a new entry: Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin. How can I resist? Everybody in the Hayman family supports everybody else in the Hayman family; we buy our coffee from Hayman Coffee, we save up for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation on Hayman Island, we get our buildings built by Hayman Construction, and if you ever need some rope, I’m sure Steve Hayman of Island Ropes in Malvern can fix you up.
So, I had to find some Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin.
Step one. Visit the local LCBO. (Note for those outside Ontario: In our enlightened society, you must buy your alcohol at the government alcohol store, because reasons.) No dice. Even though they occasionally had other Hayman’s brands, they didn’t have this one.
Step two: A search on LCBO.com revealed that it was out of stock online, but might be available in certain stores. Back before Christmas, they showed a couple of bottles in Toronto, a couple in Ottawa, a couple in Mississauga, and that was it.
I went to visit our local LCBO outlet and Sabina, the very kind manager, even though it was December 23 and she was probably swamped with important pre-holiday work, got on the phone and located two of the last bottles of Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin at a downtown Toronto store and somehow, by asking nicely, arranged to have it shipped to the Oakville store. I didn’t know they’d do that! But she did, and even though it couldn’t possibly arrive before Christmas I was very happy about this.
Step 3: A few days later we got the word – it’s here! Since my son works near the LCBO in question, I had him pick it up, and he came home, having thanked the manager profusely at my instruction, with two bottles.
Of Hayman’s Gently Rested Gin.
What? What the heck is that?
That’s not the family reserve that my family had reserved!
I couldn’t bring myself to go back to the manager and say “Um, thank you for the HUGE favour, but that wasn’t what I thought you were ordering, so I need to bug you again.”
So, step 3: Back to a search on LCBO.com, which revealed that there is now exactly ONE bottle of Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin left in the entire province of Ontario – at a store in Mississauga.
I must have this. It’s off to Mississauga.
The gin section includes all sorts of gins, including something called “Ungava”, distilled in Canada from native northern botanicals, that was a completely (un)appetizing yellow colour. Well I better buy one of those. But where’s the Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin bottle? The one bottle left in all of Ontario? Where? Where? Please help me, Mississauga store employee!
Well, she did help me. “Oh, it might be in the back. Sometimes when there’s only one left, it’s in the back; let me go check.”
Imagine my disappointment when, moments later, she returned with the news that
- Yes they have one bottle of Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin, just like the web site says
- No you can’t have it
- Because the bottle is broken
- No you can’t have it anyway.
Defeat. Maybe this was some limited edition thing and the world really is out.
There’s only one thing left to do – tweet about it.
I finally tracked down the last bottle of @HaymansGin Family Reserve Gin in the entire province of Ontario.
It’s here in Mississauga.
It’s in the back.
And the bottle is broken, I can’t have it 🙁 pic.twitter.com/coBwTcFqEd
— 𝑺𝒕𝒆𝒗𝒆 𝑯𝒂𝒚𝒎𝒂𝒏 (@shayman) December 31, 2018
Now, my friends on Twitter are awesome; they immediately reported sightings of Hayman’s Gin (not necessarily this kind), or places in other countries that were able to ship me a bottle and perhaps I could have one shipped on an upcoming trip … but here was the best response.
Hello – drop me a DM I’ll see if I can help! Happy New Year.
— James Hayman (@HaymanJames) December 31, 2018
What? Can it be? Yes! James is the actual proprietor of Hayman’s Gin, a family business since 1863 in London, UK, and after an exchange of messages, I learned that
- The reason it’s not available is because it’s been renamed “Hayman’s Gently Rested Gin.”
- And therefore the LCBO actually HAD sent me the right product. Same gin, new label! (Same SKU, apparently)
- It was renamed because too many people thought that “Hayman’s Family Reserve” meant that it was the best Hayman’s gin, and nobody was buying the other varieties
- We should come and visit the Home of English Gin in Balham, South West London, which we totally will, they have tours!
- He’ll send me one of the remaining bottles from his personal stock.
Well that is fantastic. Thank you James. And we definitely will come and visit. I mean, come on, their stills are named after their mothers and they have some fascinating recipies. We are definitely trying the Hayman’s Winter Warmers, including Mulled Sloe Gin, because, what do you know, I happen to have some Hayman’s Sloe Gin on hand already.
Will update this story when the Family Reserve arrives and when the London (Ontario) Hayman Family visits the London (UK) Hayman Family distillery.