Rum is not the only spirit with close historic ties to the Navy – gin has always been popular with the Fleet, with the drink first appearing in English records in the 16th century.
Now a distillery that bears the name of a Naval hero is supporting Naval veterans by sharing the profits of a special edition ‘Remembrance Gin’.
Nelson's Distillery has produced the VE Day 75 Charity Gin, a London dry gin with a secret blend of 27 botanicals, as their way of "giving to those who have given up so much for us."
Half the profits from each bottle sold will be donated to the RNA, with the other half going to Care After Combat, which works out as £5 to each charity for every bottle sold.
Historically a cheap alcoholic drink, gin rapidly gained popularity in the late 17th century, leading to the ‘gin craze’ of 1690-1750, at the height of which some half of the 15,000 alcohol drinking houses in London were gin shops and law makers were aghast at the level of drunkenness amongst the poor.
The Royal Navy helped spread the popularity of British-style gin across the globe as it protected and expanded the empire.
Navy strength gin, as with Navy rum, historically had quite a kick (57% ABV (100° English proof), and Plymouth Gin tended to be the brand found aboard warships.
With gin currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, there is a wide range of types and flavours on the market. Today’s standard gins tend to be a little less robust in terms of strength, though many distillers (including Nelson’s) produce a Navy strength variety.
And although Nelson’s say that the VE Day 75 Remembrance Gin may not be traditional Navy strength, it offers “hints of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves from Thailand, vanilla from Madagascar and cinnamon from Sri Lanka. This gin offers a clean crisp taste which at the same time is deeply complex and works perfectly in a gimlet.”
The gimlet is a cocktail, now generally taken as being two parts gin to one part lime juice, which is thought to have been named after Royal Navy Surgeon Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette.
Surg Admiral Gimlette (1857-1943) is said to have been the man who first added lime cordial (Rose’s Lime Juice cordial being the specified brand) to the daily gin tot in order to ward off the disease of scurvy on long voyages.
For more details of Nelson’s Remembrance Gin see https://nelsonsdistillery.co.uk/celebrating-historical-victories-nelsons-launches-a-ve-charity-gin/ and if you would like to buy a bottle at £39.50 (plus shipping) follow the ‘Shop’ link at the top of that page.