Thanks to a nephew that pays attention, and shares my love of spirits, I was recently gifted a new gin to try. My nephew told me that the Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin was his favorite of the many he has tasted. I love gins and have tried many alone in spirit tastings and in cocktails.

I have learned that not all gins lend themselves well in a martini with vermouth, bitters and lemon twist. I have tweaked my recipes, talked to bartenders, and now use one kind of gin in a stand alone Martini (Nolet’s) and one with less botanicals (Beefeater) in my Martini that does also allow for the vermouth, bitters and lemon twist.

At the end of this column is some information from the Four Pillars website. However I at least wanted to mention the 58.8 numbers that appear as part of the name on the front label, boldly placed between the words Pillar and gin. Then also on the label is that the gin is batch distilled, limited edition, 58.8% Alcohol by volume. The 58.8 number is about 10% higher than other gins. So, if you do try this gin you may need less than you normally would drink.

Why I Choose Gin Over Vodka

A couple of years ago we went through some changes in our home life, and suffice it to say, I developed stomach aches off and on. My doctor said it wasn’t an ulcer and gave me a daily antacid to take. At the same time I had taken a class on bitters. I already knew that the botanicals in gin were considered “restorative” and the bitters were equally so. (I’m not going to give you a lesson here in gin and bitters, but honestly, why have a flavorless colorless spirit – vodka – that you add things to give it flavor when you can have gin?)

Of course there are many people, even my husband, that don’t care for the botanicals in gin. To each his own. What is curious to me is that as soon as I make a gin Martini, or have one made for me, within a few sips my tummy relaxes. Who knows for sure if it’s the gin or just the idea of turning off the mind and sipping a martini at the end of the day - signaling my body that it’s time to rest? Whatever it is – it works for me. Hope this inspires some readers to drink out-of-the-box and try something new.

Recipe To Try

There were a few cocktail recipes online, but not as many for Navy Strength gin over regular gin. There was a Gimlet that looked good, and maybe one other, both asked for ingredients I didn’t have on hand when I had the urge to try my new gin. This is the recipe I found, and after I made it, it’s a keeper:

Navy Strength Gin Martini

Two ounces Navy Strength Gin

One ounce Dry Vermouth (you can go ½ ounce if you hate vermouth, but try it this way first, it really tasted perfect. I also used Dolin’s, so make sure you have a quality vermouth.)

One dash orange bitters

Build all over ice and stir. Then strain into a chilled Martini or Couple glass. (You can keep your glasses in the freezer or fill with ice while you build the drink.)

Use a lemon peel over rim, twist over glass, and either drop in or discard.

Navy Strength (From Four Pillars Website)

Today not many distilleries make a batch of Navy Strength gin just so they know their gunpowder is safe. For those of us without much gunpowder in the distillery (or, indeed at home) we make Navy Strength for other reasons.

Navy Strength Gin is for when a gin needs to stand up in a drink, for when strong is necessarily better, for when “Dutch Courage” is called for. So we started experimenting with some high proof batches for the Gin Palace in early 2014, soon after we launched.

We make ours essentially the same way as we do our Rare Dry Gin, but we reduce the amount of fresh oranges in the botanical basket by half, and replace them with intense native finger limes, harvested on the NSW North Coast near Byron Bay. 

These explosive little limes are only the size of a finger (funny that) but they pack a huge flavour punch – intense, piercing, incredible lime. They are quite simply amazing, adding a superb citrusy edge to our Navy Strength Gin. 

We also add some fresh ginger to the basket to enhance the spice. And along with the nine dry botanicals in the pot we add fresh turmeric to give the resulting gin an earthiness, and to balance the intensity of the other botanicals.

We landed at 58.8% alcohol by volume – the British definition of 'gunpowder-proof' is 57%, but we wanted that extra couple of points to be safe.

It is safe (and delicious, receiving Master status at the Gin Masters Competition three years in a row, 2015 to 2017). And you be safe, too. Don’t drive when you drink Navy Strength and don’t hop on a ship either, no matter where that handsome Naval officer suggests you might be going… And for god’s sake, no matter how safe it might be, steer well clear of any gunpowder. Please.

As you were.


Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com