Navy strength gin isn’t to be trifled with. At 57%ABV, these gins mean business, but they also have so much more going on in flavour, aroma and texture. So if you like gin, you’re going to love navy strength.
I must confess, I am a total mug for navy strength gin. It not only has a greater intensity than regular strength gin, it also gives you a clear insight into the skill of the distiller.
Most gin out there is between 37% and 45%ABV, whereas navy strength gin (you can read more about navy strength gin here) must be at or above 57%ABV.
These percentages are achieved by literally watering down the distillate that comes from the still.
There’s nothing wrong with that—in fact, at 76%ABV, you wouldn’t want to drink much of the stuff that comes from a double-distilled batch of new gin.
But water does help to temper the heat you sometimes get from a high-alcohol spirit.
At 57%, less tempering and smoothing comes from the added water, so the flavours, textures and aromas are all down to the skill of the distiller cutting the spirit properly and making sure the botanicals are all balanced.
Some of our favourite navy strength gins
These are all craft gins handmade in small artisanal distilleries in Australia. The vast majority of big, mainstream distilleries don’t make a navy strength gin for whatever reason. But you’ll find many independent producers will.
Here are some of our Aussie craft favourites.
From North Geelong in Victoria, Anther (named after an anatomical part of a flower) makes a range of superb gins, but their OP gin Goddess Strength is just superb.
Smooth as silk, powered-up juniper and citrus aromas as flavours, and an afterburner of woodiness and herbal notes, this is a master stroke from the distillery’s founder and head distiller Dr Dervilla McGowan.
And although you probably won’t be able to taste them all, the 20+ botanicals create a holistically delicious gin perfect for a martini.
Check out our full review of Anther’s Goddess Strength Gin on our regular column with craft spirits hero Nip of Courage.
This northern Melbourne distillery started out in early 2020. What with bush fires, then floods and of course Covid, it was a tricky start for owner-distiller (and ex-pro basketballer) Chris Cameron.
However, his excellent range of gins (you can read our review on four of them here) have stood the test of tough times.
Naught’s Overproof Gin, blessed with botanicals like pink lady apples, fresh lime and pink grapefruit for an intense citrus hit, this gin has a wonderfully oily texture to it.
Citrus, earthiness and a lightly bitter finish make this a perfect candidate for a corpse reviver #2 or an aviator.
From the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, the husband-and-wife team that run Karu craft rum and an extraordinary chilli vodka https://www.nipofcourage.com/post/karu-marita as well as their wonderful gins.
Head distiller Ally Ayres has somehow made her navy strength gin—Lightning—so smooth that it drinks like a regular-proof spirit, though the intense flavours and deep texture give away it’s high ABV.
Double Juniper, triple tiers of citrus with lemon myrtle, ruby grapefruit and mandarin create a light bright flavour. But the rose geranium stands at this citrus stadium and plays a floral earthy tune on your tongue with a long finish.
Try this neat with a drop of water, in a tall G&T or in a very dry martini.
I love how this Marrickville gin doesn’t mince its words. It’s gin and it’s strong! But, as you’d hope, there’s a lot more to this robust gin from the hands and minds of owner-distillers Felix Clark and Corinna Kovner.
This enigmatic couple have used, among other things, native finger lime, lots of juniper, coriander and cardamom to create a gin that starts bright and citrusy then turns deep, dark and savoury. Macadamia nut brings lots of oil to the equation so the spirit’s rich and thick and coats the mouth luxuriantly.
Based in Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, Wolf Lane Distillery has put a suitably and subtly tropical twist on their gins. Co-owners Samuel Kennis and Darren Barber opened the distillery in 2018 on the back of the success of their two bars in town—Three Wolves and Flamingo’s.
Wolf Lane’s Navy Strength Gin has a deceptively light fruity aroma that gives way to a rich, syrupy texture, plenty of spice and juniper with hints of citrus and eucalyptus towards the end.
This gin makes a mean martini but is also the business in longer cocktails too.
If anyone’s going to create an excellent navy strength gin, you’d hope it would be an ex-sailor in the Australian Navy.
From the basement belly of his beautiful renovated pub in the little town of Braidwood (the Braidwood Hotel in fact), veteran Gavin Gillin is creating some lovely spirits—gin, but also vodka, liqueurs and whisky—in his 500l copper-stainless hybrid column still.
Juniper, coriander seeds, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, orris root and on-trend yuzu peel all go towards the high-speed citrus and pepper notes that fill your senses over a slight floral layer that comes out more the longer you taste.
There’s a good heat to this gin, spiky on the tongue while the rest of the mouth is coated with the long finish to this powerful spirit. Wonderful in a G&T and even better in a gimlet, this one’s a keeper.
Braidwood is a lovely town well worth a visit, and of course, the Braidwood Hotel is a must for dinner and drinks. Gavin is also in the process of putting accommodation in the pub. Oh and the sweetshop up the road is amazing.
We found this distillery purely by chance as we were coming back from a trip to the Sapphire Coast in southern NSW. You can read more about what we got up to here.
Also in a grand old pub in a little country town, but this time on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, the Imperial Hotel plays host to the market town of Eumundi’s first distillery.
Owner Paul Thomas and his head distiller Mick Reif have created a range of spirits under the fun Folktale brand for Eumundi Distillery. But the navy strength gin stands head and shoulders—or perhaps a fox’s brush—above the rest.
Fresh local ginger, lime, lemon myrtle and a healthy dose of juniper go to creating this OP gin. Lots of lime aromas and a touch of aniseed kick things off alongside that earthy spicy juniper.
Lime leaps out more when you taste while heat from the ginger (not the high ABV) warms the mouth throughout the long, tingly finish that carries with it hints of parma violets.
If there was ever a gin made for a gin fizz, it’s got to be this one. Though it would also work nicely in an aviator.
Eumundi is a town everyone should visit at least once. Especially when they’re hungry. To prove my point, here’s our video of where you have to eat when you’re there.
And there’s plenty more to do in this fun little town, so between sips of this excellent navy strength gin, check out more of our stories on Eumundi and the Sunshine Coast here.