In intention, Green Hat’s year round Navy Strength gin packs a punch with not just Green Hat’s signature blend of botanicals, but some added juniper. Bottles at 114 proof, it’s designed to be your go-to cocktail gin. Like the other products from Michael Lowe and John Uselton’s New Columbia Distillers, the gin begins as Red Winter Wheat, mashed, fermented, and distilled on their traditional copper pot still, vapor infused with botanicals ranging from the traditional like lemon and juniper, to the less traditional like celery seed and grapefruit.
We’ve previously covered Durham Distillery’s Conniption American Dry Gin, and much is similar. Distilled via a two step process in a German built pot-still, Conniption Navy Strength Gin still splits the botanicals into two batches for distillation (vacuum, and traditional) to maximize the aromatics expressed in the final product.
Like other Navy Strength gins, this one is bottled at 57%, giving it a bracing on its own character that is well suited to cocktail mixing. But more on that in a bit.
On the nose, coriander, resinous juniper, a touch of English cucumber and a delicate hint of caraway towards the back end.
From the line of gins which has brought you the evocative names The Sabres (40% ABV), The Cutlass (50% ABV), the West Winds kicks it up a notch with the sea-themed (in more than just name) The Broadside. Named for the Naval maneuver, the gin takes liberally from its namesake, and comes out all guns blazing at once. Bottled at 58% ABV [It’s Navy Strength] it draws botanically from the shorts of Australia where Sea Parsley grows and from the sea itself. Salt is among the ingredients.
We were quite a fan of Genius Liquids’ Genius Gin when we tried it last year. We also got a bottle of their Navy Strength variety, so this is a long overdue look at that gin. It shares a lot in common with the 45% variety, so for details on Genius Liquids’ unique process we suggest checking out last summer’s review of Genius Gin ().
Lavender, resiny, woody juniper and a hint of grain grace the nose, which has a distinct, warming impression. It seems slightly less vivid than their 45% offering; however, it shares the same inviting character.
The palate is loud and quite warm, and although this is as a Navy Strength Gin should be, it strikes me as less over-emphasizing the high proof than some other Navy Strength gins do.
Navy Strength Gin is undoubtedly powerful stuff. That’s just the proof. Leopold’s Gin is among the most respected names in craft gin. Venerable and has stood the test of time.
But for their Navy Strength they did something that’s rather unusual for a distiller working on a Navy Strength gin. Most distillers give us a “less watered down” version of their main gin. So the flavors are more intense but its remarkably familiar.
But not here. This gin is a complete new from-scratch creation specifically designed to be mixed. The flavors are vivid and bright, painted with a thick paint brush. This isn’t the Lepold’s you’ve had before. It is truly it’s own beast:
Nose and Taste
Rumor has it they doubled the juniper in this batch, but wow can you tell. Lots of juniper and a hint of lemon. Strong and to its credit the only thing strong is the aroma. You’re not getting a whole lot of indication of the heat in here. Just clean gin.
On to the tasting, and this is where it becomes quite clear what this gin’s point of view is. Almost like taking a first sip of Bergamot oil: bitter, a tad sour and slightly citrus.
What comes above Navy Strength?
I’ve speculated in previous posts that such a place exists: the place where spirits are better suited for setting things ablaze than they are for drinking. But Finsbury, dares tread in a place few have dared to go.
There’s a 130 Proof rum. A 151 Proof rum. Whiskeys and the like have been known to occasionally clock in above 120.
But the nearest parallel I can come up with New Jersey’s Devil Springs Vodka, a 160 proof monster. Has a similar low shelf appearance to Finsbury [and similar price point]. While few folks use Devil’s Spring to drink straight it has some important uses. Powerful-little-goes-a-long-way additive for drinks and great option for infusion. Though 60% is only a hair above Navy Strength, this is uncharted territory and as it stands, this is one of the strongest gins I know of*
Tasting The nose is strongly juniper with a hint of alcohol. It smells a bit potent, and a bit inexpensive. Yes, lots of alcohol. But it doesn’t quite burn on the nose. Good sign.
Juniper present immediately on the taste, bright citrus.