Ginology 12: Hayman’s Royal Dock at Deptford Navy Strength Gin

By Michael W. Harris

Basic Info
Type: Naval Dry
ABV: 57%
Botanicals: Angelica, Cassia, Cinnamon, Coriander, Juniper, Lemon, Licorice, Nutmeg, Orange, Orris Root
Base: Grant Neutral Spirit
Distilling Notes: Bottled at so-called “navy strength,” much higher proof.

Navy strength gin is something of an odd duck. Clocking in at well over 50% ABV, sometimes as high as 57% (as in the gin at hand), it is much stronger than your typical gin. The legend is that it has such a high ABV because it needed to not prevent the use of a ship’s gunpowder should it become soaked in the clear spirit.

Whether this is true or not is not something I did research on. However, what I will say is that Hayman’s Royal Dock at Deptford Navy Strength Gin (could you have a longer name?) has booze to spare, and your mileage with the spirit will vary with how you use it and in what cocktails. There is a lot of flavor in the gin well beyond the alcohol, though, that is well worth exploring.


Straight Hayman’s Navy is a hell of a drink…

I promise that one of these days I will finish with Robotech, but right now I am buried in the second season and am getting more than a bit annoyed with the show (11/27). The straight Hayman’s on the nose was very citrus forward with a few hints of alcohol on it. The booze came forward, though, once it hit the palate…though only slowly.

I will admit that while the burn of the ABV did not bother me at first, the more I drank, the more pronounced it became. That being said, the other flavors were quite nice to taste, and overall Hayman’s is a well balanced as a gin, something that I found quite surprising in all honesty. However, to finish it I had to put an ice cube in it to dilute the spirit just a bit. As opposed to many gins like the Tanqueray No. 10 or Gunpowder Gin, it is not one that I will find myself turning again to sip straight.

Gin and Tonic

One of the finest g’nt’s I have had in a while…

Based on my expensive at the tail end of the straight tasking, I decided to halve my normal pour for the gin and tonic so as not to get completely drunk on a single cocktail. Plus, I needed to get through both the g’nt and pink gin tastings on the same day (12/1) while also getting to some long suffering videos in my YouTube “Watch Later” cue. I have, sadly, fallen behind on many things and needed to play catch up last Saturday.

To my pleasant surprise, the Hayman’s and tonic was a delightful cocktail, and one in which I barely tasted the 57% ABV (a dangerous situation to be in). The citrus flavors of the gin balanced well with the tonic and lime, and together they created one of the most pleasant new-to-me gin and tonics that I have had in a while. I am actually looking forward to trying another one in the very near future as I eventually finish the bottle.

I don’t really know what else to say other than to try a Hayman’s and tonic. It was shocking to me that a 57% ABV gin could be so smooth with rather subtle flavors when paired with a mixer. It is truly a credit to the distillers that they created such a high proof and yet drinkable spirit.

Pink Gin

Once is enough…

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the pink gin, which I tried on the same day (12/1). While the tonic subdues and brings out the best qualities of the gin, the bitters amps up its worst quality: the alcohol burn. With the bitters added, the alcohol overwhelms the drink. However, while drinking it, a phone call pulled me away and I discovered that as the pink gin sat, the drink settled down and became almost pleasant, though still not as good as the gin and tonic. I feel like, much like the straight Hayman’s, the pink gin might need something to cut down the ABV just a tad and allow the flavors to open up.

Bottom Line
Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength is an interesting gin, and one whose lineage is worth exploring. It was quite tasty in a gin and tonic, but for me the ABV keeps it from being truly enjoyable otherwise without some alteration (i.e. as a primary spirit in a cocktail). However, that does not keep me from giving it a strong Middle Shelf recommendation.

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