Hernö Navy Strength Gin is the second gin from Hernö brenneri and the northernmost distillery gin distillery up in Dala, Sweden. We previously reviewed their 41% Swedish Excellence Gin.
Northernmost Navy Strength Gin?
Q. If there was a Navy, let’s say hypothetically, would they be operating anything other than icebreakers?
A. Well, let’s dispel this notion. In theory, the nearest large city to Dala, Härnösand is known as a Harbor city, and its climate, while cool, is similar to Buffalo, NY. While this is the northermost gin distillery, it’s not so northern that a Navy – in theory – couldn’t operate out of the town where it is distilled. So dispel the notion that this is a spatial anachronism of sorts. On to the drink!
The nose is a bit different than the lower proof batch. A little bit more emphasis on the floral, and a decidedly pronounced bit of heat. You can tell that this is going to pack some strength just from the scent.
The palate emphasizes some different notes as well. Up front, quiet on the lips. Takes half a second for the intensity to build.
Hernö Navy Strength Gin on the taste— Juniper crescendos early, but a buttery richness and thick mouthfeel accompanies the next set of notes. Heat rises and flashes briefly, and then we get a similar note to Swedish Excellence, that tangy citrusy note on the closing. It continues with a longer finish accompanied with lingering slow burn.
But one thing worth remarking on right here is that Navy Strength Gin is primarily the domain of classic style gins. Plymouth is the big name in Navy Strength, so you know what you’re getting there. Royal Dock of Deptford is another excellent gin with a classic bent. Even from distilleries like NY Distillery, which have a very contemporary gin, Perry’s Tot Navy Strength is much more classically oriented. Hernö’s Navy Strength is perhaps the most contemporary of the Navy Strength options I’ve tried, and perhaps the only one that I have written about recently which puts the floral/fruity notes so much forward.
In traditional G&T ratios, the flavor of Hernö Navy Strength Gin overpowers the tonic. But of course like all Navy Strength Gins, Hernö’s best work comes in complex cocktails.
This is one killer Negroni, because I love the way that floral tangy note combines with the Campari.
It may be a little too bracing for a martini [unless you do the legendary Martha Stewart* reversed ratio Martini – 3 parts Vermouth, 1 part Gin], the G&T, the Gimlet, etc. But I think what you’re going to want to do with this is push the ways you can inject a little bit of contemporary gin into some classic cocktails. Corpse Reviver #2, Last Word, 20th Century. These are complex drinks which I think have always benefited from the power of Navy Strength Gin. But Hernö brings a different note, and these are some of the standout cocktails that it makes.
Overall, Hernö Navy Strength Gin
I think whether or not you like Hernö Navy Strength Gin will rest on how much you enjoy the fruity tang of Hernö gin. It’s clearly a gin, and the Navy Strength improves on the original by not having that “fruit loop” flavor. But I know that jammy note isn’t for everyone. If you dislike that note, good news – the Navy Strength Gin market is full of great alternatives. But if you do? Then you’re probably elated that finally there’s a Navy Strength Gin that brings what you like to your cocktails.
* I say it’s legendary because I have a hard time finding an authoritative source for this attribution. Consider this a rumor more than a fact….