The World’s Most Powerful Gin: Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin

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The first gin to come from the New York Distilling Company (a Brooklyn-based operation co-founded by Tom Potter of Brooklyn Brewery), Perry’s Tot offers an enticing blend of citrus notes, and interesting back story to its name.

So-called navy strength gin dates back to the 18th century, when the British Royal Navy used to pay its shipment and officers with alcohol. At the time, a concern was that if normal proof alcohol were to accidentally mingle with gunpowder, it would be rendered useless. The solution was a special 57 ABV gin that wouldn’t inhibit gunpowder from igniting (and we imagine it lit up plenty of seamen to boot). And in another nod to history, the brand’s name “Perry’s Tot” pays homage to Matthew Calbraith Perry, who served as Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1841 to 1843.

Now, it may seem crazy to even go near this spirit for a casual drink. But you’d be remiss. Navy-strength gin has a boldness you just don’t find in lower-octane versions. It has a sweet palate entry (due to the use during distillation of wildflower honey from upstate New York). Juniper, citrus and cinnamon follow through on the mid-palate before giving way to a slow hot alcohol burn. It’s a very mixable spirit, and the only Navy-strength gin currently available in the United States. [$40; nydistilling.com]