While there is no legal definition for Navy Strength gin, you’ll still find many producers offering one as part of their range, so what does the term mean? 

Essentially, it means the gin is stronger than your average, which tends to sit around the 40% ABV mark. 57% is the traditional ballpark for Navy Strength, a throwback to a test the Royal Navy did to make sure they were getting proper strength spirits. The spirit (usually rum) would be mixed with gunpowder and a match put to it. If it failed to ignite then it had been watered down. But if it lit, then it was declared 100% proof, which translates in modern terms to 57.15% ABV. This spirit would then be diluted to 54.5%, so if you are being picky, this would technically be the more accurate, and while most modern expressions sit at 57%, you might also see the occasional example bottled around the 54% mark. 

Five examples of Navy Strength gin

Plymouth Navy Strength

Plymouth Navy Strength Gin

Plymouth Gin was the first to revive the term ‘navy strength’ back in the ‘90s, so this is a great place to start. The distillery supplied gin to the navy for over 200 years, and this classic expression includes botanicals such as juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, green cardamom, coriander, angelica and orris, resulting in a complex but not overpowering flavour profile. Ideal for adding some extra weight to cocktails. 

Bathtub Gin – Navy-Strength

The navy strength edition of this characterful cold compounded gin ramps things up with a stronger ABV and packs a bigger botanical punch thanks to the ‘bashing up’ (technical term) of the botanicals to release more flavour! Packed with character, this one shines sipped neat and will add plenty of depth to mixed serves. 

Tarquin’s The Seadog Navy Strength Gin

Produced at the Southwestern distillery in Cornwall, orris root, green cardamom seeds, cinnamon and violets are among the botanicals included in The Seadog edition of Tarquin’s Gin. The Tarquin’s gang recommend this in a Negroni, bolstered by the optional addition of a measure of cold brew coffee. When cold brew is an option, I’m always in. 

Hernö Navy Strength Gin

Swedish distillery Hernö also offers a navy strength edition of its classic London dry gin. This small batch gin has been showered with awards and boasts a bold, juniper-forward character with peppery spice tamed by mild, creamy vanilla. One to try in a Martinez!

Conker Spirit RNLI Navy Strength Gin

Not only is it punchy and delicious, but this gin from Conker Spirit down in Dorset was created in partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who receive £5 from the folks at Conker for every bottle sold. Try it with fresh lime and ginger beer for a refreshing twist on a Mule.