Anyone for Gin?

How can a simple spirit flavoured with juniper be so varied and so delectable?

From its inauspicious roots when gin made its name as ‘Mother’s Ruin’, it is now a sophisticated drink of choice and an appropriate subject for a Wivenhoe House dinner.  We are partnering with Hayman Distillers, based in Witham, the longest serving gin distilling family in England, having started the business in 1863.

Gin started life as a medicine, claimed to help with gout or indigestion. It’s other redeeming quality was its cheapness. The marketing message from the 1730s was short and to the point: ‘Drunk for one penny, dead drunk for tuppence. Straw for nothing’!

In London alone there were 7,000 shops, serving ten million gallons of gin a year. Eventually the Government was forced to introduce the ‘Gin Act’, which raised the excise duty and banned distillers, grocers, and even gaols, from selling it.

Now the regulations take on a different tone, to be called a gin, a spirit must have a predominant flavour of gin, the rest is up to the producer. With gin on the resurgence, producers have started sourcing some exotic flavours to help their brand stand out from the crowd.

Hayman’s portfolio, for instance, includes Hayman’s Sloe Gin and Royal Dock Gin. Introduced back in 1863 this Navy Strength Gin at 57% vol is strong enough to enable gunpowder to still light if Gin is spilt on it.

A multitude of flavours and botanicals are used to make gin. Popular ones include coriander, citrus, cucumber and liquorice.  The quantities and types used are closely guarded secrets.

A ‘G and T’ is well known, and as gins vary in taste so do the tonics. But gin is also a popular partner in a huge number of cocktail recipes, including the most iconic of them all – a Martini. Shaken, or stirred, anyone?


Wivenhoe House Gin Dinner

On Saturday 1 July we will be hosting our first Gin dinner. Start the evening with gin cocktails on the sunken lawn before heading into our beautiful Grade II listed main house. Next will be a selection of Hayman’s gin which have been expertly paired with our specially prepared menu. This fantastic event will take place in the wonderful Signatures restaurant. There will be space for 35 tickets only so be sure to get yours before the event sells out.


Sample Menu including gin tasting throughout

London dry gin cured mackerel, sweet pickled cucumber, citrus gel


Carpaccio of venison, parsnip crisp, juniper infused beetroot


Pink gin sherbet


Sloe roast rump of lamb, potato terrine, pea puree


Preserved lemon and gin baked salmon, brown shrimp butter


Negroni fruit jelly, ginger crumble, burnt orange


Four course dinner with Gin  – £65 per person

How to book




find us, however you travel
By car:

When using a SATNAV please enter the location WIVENHOE, Colchester (do not use a postcode as this will direct you to the wrong side of Wivenhoe Park).

Take the exit marked Colchester (A133)
Follow the A133 towards Clacton
Please follow signs for WIVENHOE
You will see a black sign on your right which says, ‘Wivenhoe House & The Brasserie’, turn right here into PARK ROAD
The entrance for Wivenhoe House is shared with the University of Essex, but PARK ROAD leads you through Wivenhoe Park and you will be able to see our beautiful house from the road on your right
CONTINUE to follow the signs for WIVENHOE HOUSE and it will lead you to us.

If you would like any help with directions, please do call us on 01206 863666 and a member of our team will be able to assist you.

By train:

Colchester station, Colchester Town station, Wivenhoe station and Hythe stations are all between 10-15 minutes from Wivenhoe House by car. Trains run between London (Liverpool Street) and Colchester station every 10-20 minutes. The journey takes around an hour. Also connect with Colchester from Norwich, Ipswich, Felixstowe & Harwich. Some trains from London (Liverpool Street) also stop at Wivenhoe Station. When travelling from the Clacton/Walton direction, alight at Wivenhoe or Hythe Stations.

By plane:

Stansted airport is approximately 45 minutes from Wivenhoe House by car. Helicopter pad coordinates are 603200/223900.