Last year we were asked to experiment with some recipes for an exclusive release gin. The brief was it needs to be predominantly citrus in flavour and aroma and have an ABV of 57%... Navy Strength!
So I thought this would be a great opportunity to explain how we would go about this.
Not as easy as you would think. At a higher (57%) ABV, the botanicals and their respective ratios we use, would need to be robust enough to shine through regardless of the spirit strength. Of course in our distillery Juniper takes center stage, with coriander and green cardamom not far behind. I created 9 recipes. As the brief was that it needs to be citrus forward, I macerated 6 of the recipes for 48hrs with either lemon or orange rind in 90%ABV before distillation. Some recipes I also included citrus rind in the infusion basket (those who have visited us will know what I'm taking about).
I ended up sending them 5 samples for a blind tasting at 57%. You must be asking yourself why 57%?
So we refer to 57% ABV in Gin as Navy Strength. Goes back to the days when the Navy would be able to measure the alcohol volume by mixing alcohol and gun power and set it alight. If it lit, they would know it was 100 degrees proof (57% ABV). The alcohol they kept on board had to be at 100 degrees proof so that if there was spillage from the casks onto the gunpowder, they could still be able to use it.
But isn't that too harsh? Actually not. Its important to remember that flavors and aromas bond to alcohol and not water. Adding water opens up certain molecules but it will dilute the flavour. I wouldn't say start your spirits journey with 57% ABV but you should definitely give it a go.
Once they made their choice with regards to botanicals, we started distilling and bottling the exclusive release. We macerated the base with citrus, lots of it. We then added more citrus in the vapour chamber together with juniper, coriander, ginger, cassia bark and lavender. The result is an ultra-smooth and balanced gin with plenty citrus as per their brief.
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Read Whisky of the Week's review here
This exclusive release is available only from WhiskyBrother&Co