HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin is bottled at 57% ABV and is produced in partnership, and under license, with The National Museum of the Royal Navy. This is a small batch gin made at the Isle of Wight Distillery near Ryde. It is named after Nelson’s famous flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory.
The Isle of Wight Distillery was founded by a winemaker and a brewer who had long thought about making a gin. Conrad Gauntlet started growing vines and making wine at Rosemary vineyard in 1985 and, with over 30 acres of vineyards, is one of the largest wine producers on the Isle of Wight. Xavier Baker has been brewing beer since 1995 and first cut his teeth at the Ventnor Brewery and, after a couple of detours in whisky (Ireland and Scotland), he eventually arrived at Goddard’s Brewery near Ryde. The pair soon met and a plan to produce Gin was conceived.
The idea behind Isle of Wight Gin is to produce a gin with a sense of place by using carefully selected local ingredients and botanicals. The botanicals, which are the same as the Mermaid Gin are: Juniper Berries, Rock Samphire, VBG Boudicea Hops, English Coriander Seed, Fresh Lemon Zest, Angelica Root, Liquorice Root, Grains of Paradise, Orris Root and Elderflower. The botanicals are steeped in a pure neutral spirit for a full 24 hours which helps to extract all the essential oils and thus flavours and aromas. After 24 hours maceration the gin is then redistilled using the “one shot” method and distillation takes a full day in their 300 litre column still. The gin rested for seven days prior to bottling to allow flavours and aromas to mellow and marry together. HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin is bottled at 57% and which means a higher concentration of botanicals than the normal strength Mermaid gin with more intense flavours and aromas.
Why is it called Navy Strength Gin? In the 18th Century all Navy ships would carry gin on board at 100° proof, the English standard of the day. This equates to the modern strength of 57% ABV. It was found that gunpowder that is soaked in alcohol of at least 57% ABV could still be ignited. Sailors therefore used to test the alcoholic strength of both gin and rum by seeing if they could still light gunpowder after it had been soaked in the spirit. A handy test make sure your provisioner was not trying to sell you watered down spirit!
As mentioned above, HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin is made in partnership with The National Museum of the Royal Navy and a percentage of the sales are donated to help fund the ongoing restoration of the world’s most famous warship. As well as the Navy Strength Gin, Isle of Wight Distillery also produce HMS Victory Navy Strength Rum, Rock Sea Vodka and Mermaid Gin. In due course there will also be an Isle of Wight Whisky made from Barley grown on the island some of which is already in cask – watch this space.