Gin producers are getting smart. They're paying attention to the spirits industry. They're watching the whisk(e)y developments and the cocktail revivals, and they're reacting swiftly with tact. The bold new market of spirits lovers wants bold new flavors in its spirits. The revival of high-proof gin is mirroring the trends we've seen with single malt and Bourbon. Much like with whiskey, the extra alcohol can sometimes bring out and even balance the flavor of an expressive or botanical gin. I love gin. I feel like it's a part of my blood sometimes (and for much of the night it literally is). Distributors with new gins are getting smart as well.
"Hey, that David Driscoll guy over at K&L? Bring your gin. He'll buy anything that's gin"
It's kind of true. I really love adding new gins to our shelves so I'm much more open to try a new spirit if the letters G-I-N are on the label in that particular, consecutive order. Navy Strength are two words we're beginning to see more often on the label, as well. Some producers tell the romantic, swashbuckling story of how naval captains needed to be certain their gunpowder would still fire should the ship's supply of gin happen to soak into the explosives. 57% was supposedly the strength at which the powder could still catch a spark if it happened to be as inebriated as the crew. While that's a fantastic tale, I think the higher proof probably helped the royal navy make sure the crown wasn't watering down its ration of hooch. Whatever the reason, I'm happy a few new producers are raising the alcohol levels without raising the prices.
Plymouth Navy Strength Gin $33.99 - Finally here, the 57% version of Plymouth Gin is a huge improvement over the standard expression. The pepper is more vibrant, the botanicals more herbacious, and the gin finally feels like it's in balance. I've always liked Plymouth, but I really like this. There's no going back at this point. You're getting a massively-potent, high-quality gin for the same price as most average craft distiller gins. This will be limited.
Leopold Bros Navy Strength Gin $44.99 - This high-octane, full-throttle gin is loaded with herbacious character and tons of bitter citrus peel. Even at 57%, it doesn't feel overproofed, but rather in total balance. What I really like is that Todd Leopold didn't just bottle his standard formula with more alcohol. It's an entirely new formula for people looking to make serious cocktails. Try it in a Tom Collins or gin and tonic and taste how wonderfully concentrated the flavor is!
Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin $27.99 - Eric Seed found a real winner with this one, and an incredible value to boot. Hayman has come up with a steal of a deal - a bold, cuttingly dry and herbacious London Dry gin that's almost too much. You can't help but keep drinking it, despite the fact that your liver and kidneys are screaming otherwise.
Martin Miller's Westbourne Strength London Dry Gin $29.99 - Not quite navy strength, this higher-proof gin (45.7%) from Martin Miller offers a less-biting, more floral and citric flavored flavor profile. It's classic in every way and marries well with just about every cocktail ingredient. A very good gin.