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The Isle of Wight Distillery is proud to announce a partnership with The National Museum of the Royal Navy to produce, under license, a unique Navy Strength Gin.

The Island-­based distillery, that currently produces hand­crafted Wight Mermaids Gin, has partnered with the museum to launch a new Navy Strength Gin named after HMS Victory, the Navy’s most illustrious warship. There will also be a special limited edition gin that is both Navy Strength and aged in oak barrels to recreate the taste and style of gin drunk at sea by Naval officers who served at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Isle of Wight Distillery has commissioned four bespoke barrels that will incorporate pieces of oak from HMS Victory itself. They will be created by England’s only Master Cooper, Alastair Simms who will be working closely with the National Museum of the Royal Navy conservation team in Portsmouth. A percentage of the sales will go to support the ongoing restoration of the Victory.

The barrels will be filled with Navy Strength Gin on 7 May 2016 to commemorate the launch of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Victory on this date 251 years ago in 1765. In time there will be four separate releases of the finished oak-­aged gin, with each of the special barrels containing a batch of 251 bottles. The first release will have matured for five months in a Victory oak barrel, the second release will be in one year, the third release in three years and the fourth release in five years on the 7th May 2021.

HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin will be launched at the Junipalooza Gin Event, Old Tobacco Docks, East London on the 11 & 12 June. It will also be the first opportunity to pre­purchase the limited edition oak­aged HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin. In October a presentation of the first release will be hosted onboard HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with a few words from David T Smith, Gin Consultant and Historian.

Xavier Baker, co­founder, Isle of Wight Distillery commented: “We are sure Lord Nelson, who commanded the fleet from HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar, would approve of this exciting gin. Aside from being a national hero, famous for his naval victories and tactics, Nelson was a gin lover and quite particular about his choice of tipple.”

Navy Strength Gin

In the 18 century the Royal Navy legislated that all naval ships were to carry a quantity of gin on board and that it must be 100° proof (the English standard of the day) which equates to 57% ABV. It was discovered that gunpowder soaked in alcohol with a strength of more than 57% could still be ignited and this became the standard test for Navy Strength or ‘gunpowder proof’ gin. Ships’ gin was stored in oak barrels which over time imparted its distinctive colour and flavour.

Giles Gould, Head of Commercial Services, The National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “We are delighted to be working with a local distillery to produce this unique and innovative gin that highlights our naval history, in such a fun and tasty way. The NMRN is constantly seeking new initiatives to increase awareness and support the conservation of our naval heritage. This is a perfect collaboration for us, combining with a local business to help support our wider aims.”

Xavier added: “We are thrilled with this very special opportunity to collaborate with the National Museum of the Royal Navy on this exciting project. Encapsulating one of Nelson’s favourite tipples with the history and heritage that HMS Victory evokes. Navy Strength Gin and the oak aging process, does the story get any better than that?”.

HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin will be available to purchase after its launch in May from outlets including the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and online here.

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