Ballyvolane Spirits has released a new navy strength edition of its popular spirit, Bertha’s Revenge.
Navy strength gins can be traced back to the Napoleonic wars, when Britain boasted the most powerful navy in the world. At the time, more than a quarter of the Royal Navy’s 17,000 men were Irish and among them was Vice-Admiral Sylverius Moriarty who was one of Ballyvolane co-founder Justin Green’s ancestors. He was born in 1735 at Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry and was reputed to have been one of the only Irish-speaking Vice-Admirals in the Royal Navy.
Rum and gin were staples on-board Royal Navy ships and daily rations of rum were issued to the crews up to as recently as 1970. Prior to 1816 there was no accurate way to measure alcohol strength so a rule-of-thumb method was applied: the gunpowder was mixed together with the spirit to form a paste. If the spirit was over a certain strength, the powder would ignite, and if under, it would not.
This method made sure the navy was not being swindled or being sold watered-down spirit and more importantly ensured that the gunpowder remained highly explosive in the event of a spillage. This was vital as the casks of spirit and gunpowder were usually stored in close proximity below decks and if the casks toppled over during a storm or during a raging battle and spilled their contents soaking the gunpowder, the gunpowder would still ignite.
High strength spirit at 57% was therefore what the navy demanded when buying spirits from its purveyors.
Bertha’s Revenge Navy Strength Gin comes in at a 57.1% ABV, and has a remodelled botanical blend to help accentuate particular flavour notes.
Bertha’s Revenge Navy Strength Gin tastes best when sipped over ice, and is also a great base for gin-forward cocktails such as a gimlet.
Bertha’s Navy Strength is sold in 50 cl bottles, costing €42 RRP and is currently available online via https://www.ballyvolanespirits.ie/ and from selected retailers in Ireland.