Day two of Ginvent brings me something I’m rather excited for. Last year we tried Dartmouth gin for the first time, and I am a big fan. Today, we are trying their navy strength version. Their original gin mixes juniper with floral and spiced notes, and the navy strength version uses a new recipe as well as the new ABV of 57%. The Naval link is deeply ingrained in the brand, their families having centuries of maritime history and this gin takes that inspiration a step further. They amp up the juniper and bring lime in at the front – presumably to fight off the scurvy – alongside loads of spice power from grains of paradise, star anise, cardamom and cubeb.
Happy first day of Ginvent! Here we are for my fourth year and kicking off the festivities with Conniption Navy Strength gin. Hailing from the Durham Distillery, this gin isn’t from the Durham of Cathedral fame, instead they are based in Durham, North Carolina. We’ll take a short detour here to talk about American gins as they have some different rules over the sea. Here in the UK, to be gin the flavour must be “predominantly” juniper with a minimum ABV of 37.5%. In the USA, gins have to be “characteristically” juniper and a minimum of 40% ABV. This means their gins have a different feel as the juniper is less obvious (at least in the American gins I’ve tried previously) which allows them to play with their flavour profile a bit more. Now we have that out the way, the distillery uses a two step process to create their gins. First they perform a traditional distillation in a copper pot, then they move on to a more modern vacuum distillation for their more delicate botanicals. Their original gin uses cucumber and honeysuckle to create a fresh and floral finish, and usually when a brand creates a navy strength gin they tend to just amp up their recipe. Here, they share just three botanicals but add sweet citrus and fig and raises the ABV to 57%. They have won a number of awards, most recently winning the Best American Navy Strength gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards and before that a double gold (pretty impressive) at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. So, how does it taste?
Note: I contacted the Brighton Gin team who kindly sent me sample of their new Seaside Strength gin to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.
If you cast your mind back to 15 December 2014, you might remember I published my first ever blog post. Oh how the four years have flown. The first post was written by an inexperienced but enthusiastic gin drinker trying the new Brighton Gin which I had very excitedly reserved at a shop wayyyyyy out of my way and collected exhausted after a holiday to Stockholm. In the time it has taken for me to sort of learn what I’m doing, the Brighton Gin team have been going from strength to strength and have just added a new edition to their family – the 57% Seaside Strength gin. Made in Brighton Gin tradition, each small batch bottle is filled, waxed and labelled by hand but this gin hits you with citrus in the nose using candied orange, juniper and “notes of spice” but they don’t say what. What they do say is that this gin is smooth and perfect for drinking neat, or with tonic and lime. So, how does it taste?
You’ll know if you’ve seen Sir Robin of Locksley gin before as it is a fairly lurid green bottle, and today’s gin – their VSOT, a navy strength Old Tom – is a similarly bright blue. Their signature gin is a half way point between an Old Tom and a London Dry style of gin (and was in last year’s Ginvent calendar), aimed to be sipped easily, but this is full Old Tom (the name stands for Very Special Old Tom). Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across an navy strength Old Tom before – and in my mind it seems a bit strange. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweeter, and I worry that the 57.5% ABV will knock some of that sweetness out of it.
Note: The Batch team sent me a sample of this to try, but I will let you know if I’m not a fan.
You may have seen my review of Batch Brew‘s signature gin (here) and their Innovations Gin Rummy (here). Today we are trying their Industrial Strength gin which is part of their main range, after making its debut in their experimental Innovations range. This is their take on a navy strength gin – this is 55% ABV – which has won double gold and best gin at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, not bad for a gin distilled and bottled in Burnley. This version is a twist in their signature which tones down the spice and amps up the juniper with a touch of lemon balm (or Melissa officinalis) for a sweeter note.
You may have seen that I’ve already tried Elg No. 1 (traditional gin) and Elg No. 2 (Old Tom) and so today we – rather logically – move on to the third in their range. Elg No. 3 is a mighty 57.2% – using the same three-botanical recipe but diluted with less water. This additional ABV is designed to give the gin a much more intense flavour and aroma.
As we enter the second half of Ginvent, today we are trying the Elephant strength version of Elephant gin. what is Elephant strength you ask? Well, it’s 57% navy strength. But Elephant gin have a theme going on… I’ve been able to try a special edition Elephant gin through Craft Gin Club (here) and their Sloe gin (here) so I’m excited to see how this one compares. Continue reading
It’s day 3 and today we are drinking 58 Navy Strength gin. Last year’s Ginvent calendar contained their regular gin (review and info here) so let’s see how this one fares. Fun fact: this is part of the launch of their Navy Strength gin, we’re some of the first people to try it wahoo! Continue reading
Let’s start week two of Ginvent with a gin that excites me – I tried Tarquin’s gin a long time ago thanks to my father so ramping it up to navy strength is a good prospect. Bottled at 57% instead of the usual 42% it certainly smells more intense. I gave it a sniff, and it whacks you in the face and burns your nose out. Quite a shock to my lazy afternoon.
Mixed with tonic, it smells very juniper heavy. It’s tastes fairly savoury, I think adding some rosemary wouldn’t go amiss as a garnish. Doesn’t taste as strong as it smells, but the warmth running down my throat says otherwise. I found it very sippable and could happily settle in for an evening with this. Unlike NB’s 57% gin which knocked me out after one drink. This is easy going, despite it’s strength, but have enough flavour to make it stand out.
You can find a bottle of navy strength gin on Masters of Malt for £40.52 a bottle. Whilst I’m not certain I would go out of my way to buy this, it certainly is a good addition to the collection.