Navy strength is the term for a gin that’s at least 57% ABV.
The term dates back to the eighteen century, during the gin craze, when they navy wanted to ensure only the highest strength spirits were brought aboard their ships.
Strength (and therefore perceived quality) was tested by lighting a mixture of the spirit and gunpowder. If the flame burned clear, this was ‘proof’ that the spirit was of sufficient standard (at least 114 proof or 57% ABV in today’s terms). Failure to light or a smoky flame were signs that the spirit was below the required strength.
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