Review – Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin
The relationship between gin and the British Navy is a long one. The Hayman family supplied the Royal Navy from 1863 with a Navy Strength gin under the name of Senior Service Gin as a reference to the nickname given to the Navy. Such a name would likely not sell so well to today’s modern consumer and so the gin was renamed ‘Royal Dock’, after Royal Victoria Dock to which the Navy had it’s gin delivered. Royal Dock is currently distilled by Thames Distiller’s from a neutral alcohol base into which the botanicals have been macerated for 24hrs.
Nose: This is a high abv gin, but you wouldn’t know it from the aroma. It is beautifully light and fresh upfront, with a delicate piney juniper profile balanced by lemon zest and a gentle contribution from coriander and cardamon. Hints of mustard seed and corn spirit float in just at the end for a surprising but pleasing twist.
Neat: Following the house style, a sweet entrance builds to a flavoursome, but still composed and conservative palate in which it is notable how well balanced the the juniper and citrus notes are in particular. Neither dominates the other, allowing the delicate spice notes to float onto the palate like a well-choreographed dance routine. Coriander and cardamon take a slightly more central role than the other spices, with liquorice notes also prominent as they contribute sweetness. This gin has a wonderfully oily mouthfeel, and a presence on the palate that is more due to its excellent balance than an aggressive flavour profile that is no easily achieved with navy strength gins. Perhaps the only drawback is the fact the sweetness continues to linger on the finish, preventing a crisp close to proceedings that would be well-recieved.
Mixing: Although this is a high-proof gin, the fact that it is not consequentially too botanically intense means that it is much more versatile than other navy-strength gins. Go-to classics for any gin such as the G&T and Dry Martini are very successful in demonstrating both the balance and complexity of this gin. Both drinks appear much lighter than they really are and other than the additional oomph from the high abv, neither stray from a middle ground in flavour profile. Often higher abv spirits benefit from the addition of citrus juice to cut through and bring out some of the hidden flavours. This is not the case with Royal Dock, and in fact ‘sour’ drinks such as the White Lady and Eton Blazer are less than runaway successes on account of the imbalance that the citrus brings. By contrast, sweeter drinks coax out the full range of flavours much more impressively, particularly if balanced with a healthy dash of bitters to further enhance the aromatic properties. The Gimlet is an obvious choice due to the Navy connections and is also a good example of the need not to mix this gin with too many other strongly-flavoured ingredients. Keeping it simple, such as in the signature Wax Cocktail (recipe below) allows the subtleties of citrus and spice, and how they play off the juniper to be detected in a way that is not the case in classics such as the Negroni which just ends up being too boozy without the benefit of profiling the understated balance of this gin. Having said that, this is a gin that offers the opportunity to help carry other flavours and so, whilst not fully identifiable in it’s own right in drinks such as the Mule’s Hind Leg, it plays it’s role in making this combination of gin, Benedictine, Calvados, apricot Brandy and Maple syrup highly enjoyable.
Signature Cocktail – Wax Cocktail
1.5oz Royal Dock Gin, 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Stir ingredients with ice and train into a chilled glass.
Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin is a superbly balanced Navy Strength gin that follows a classic London Dry Gin style but with the additional oomph from the high abv to offer it a niche position within such a crowded category. It mixes well and makes is an excellent example of this seldom-seen gin category.
Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.