I’ve been looking forward to trying the team at Never Never Distilling Co.’s gins since The Gin Queen began raving about their work in 2017. “Long time readers know I fan girl about this gin ALL THE TIME,” she wrote. Well anytime someone with a palate like hers raves— you have my attention. But then this past week Never Never Distilling Co. Southern Strength Gin won the award for best Classic-style gin in the world. IN THE WORLD. I knew it was time to review this gin.
Never Never Distilling Co. Southern Strength Gin despite the strength reference is not Navy Strength. It is bottled at an assertive 52% ABV. It is what its makers described as a “Beast of a gin.”
Designed based on consumer and bartender feedback (music to my ears!— check out my book on consumer preferences). It elevates the angelica, coriander and lemon character in the mix and is bottled at a better proof for mixing. Southern Strength Gin was distilled on Never Never Distilling’s Melbourne built and designed 300 L copper pot still.
Similar to the the three-fold technique used by Sipsmith in their VJOP they do the juniper three ways. Pre-distillation maceration, in the pot while distilling, and again in a basket.
Gorgeous intense angular pine needles burst forth from the glass poured. The heat is evident on the nose as well here. Zesty round lemon and soft, milky, angelica root round out one of the most classic noses I’ve smelled all year. Southern Strength Gin is beautiful and exciting, especially if you’re looking for more juniper in your life.
On the palate, the juniper becomes rounder and softer, while still maintaining its intensity. Surprisingly, angelica contributes a great deal here, especially late. It’s roundness and faintly musky character elevates juniper even further to the fore.
The lemon is tart and slippery, with some piney notes. It segues into a finish that has suggestions of verbena, chervil and bay leaf. A cool, gentle minty glow briefly returns to life as some of the gentle hints of spice botanicals come through on the back end.
Never Never Distilling Co. Southern Strength Gin has a long and warm finish that is tenacious as it is traditional.
Seemingly designed for mixing, Southern Strength Gin doesn’t disappoint. With a bold juniper-dominated palate, it stands up and is recognizable as a classic gin in any number of uses: try the Aviation, the Last Word, or as to the Gin Queen’s recommendations— an Army Navy Cocktail.
It’s a welcome ingredient in mixed drinks as well where you want to taste the gin. Try it in a Gin and Lemonade or Gin and Tonic with a nice classic tonic water. It’s a juniper lover’s dream.
The only cocktail class I thought it might not work as well in would be Martini or other high gin content/low mixer ingredient cocktails. Certainly not because of the flavor— it’s just a bit hotter than I think works best in those. I’d suggest going to a 2:1 Ratio Martini, or if you’re feeling sassy, this is one of the few gins to have enough fortitude to still be gin-like in the old school Reverse Martini (more Vermouth than gin).
Overall, Never Never Distilling Co. Southern Strength Gin
It may seem like it’s pouring it on— to recognize 2019’s Classic Style Gin of the Year again. But this gin is a beautiful, delicious, and appropriately proofed gin that will appeal to all gin drinkers. In an era of controversy about what makes a gin, a gin— Never Never Distilling Co. Southern Strength Gin is proof that things are going to be alright. No, even better than alright. Things are going to be fantastic.