I’ve long been a fan of The Gower Gin Company – having reviewed their original Gŵyr & Pinwydd Gins in 2018 and placed their Bara Brith Gin in my Top Ten of 2019 – so I was excited and delighted in equal measure when I heard they were releasing a Navy Strength Gin.
Commemorating the local landmark ‘Worms Head’ – shaped like a Dragon drinking from the sea – and based on the original Gŵyr Rhosili recipe (which contains sea buckthorn, lime, gorse and linden flower), Nerth Y Ddraig – or Dragon Strength – features additional cubeb pepper, grains of paradise and lapsang souchong tea and comes in at a whopping 60% ABV.
The nose is both herbaceous and smoky but also surprisingly subtle. The palate, on the other hand, opens with toasted spice but is quickly overwhelmed with smoke as if one is walking straight towards a roaring bonfire. But, incredibly, the smoke never hits the back of your throat and never becomes acrid. Instead this gin is remarkably smooth despite the 60% ABV. With dry herbaceous notes and zesty citrus, the smoke suddenly clears again leaving almost mentholic notes on the long but clean, citrusy finish.
Clever and unusual, I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. I’m not sure it really works with tonic but it’s definitely designed for cocktails. As you might expect, this makes a wonderfully complex negroni where the smoke is almost brought into submission by Campari and Vermouth but the dragon lets out just a puff on the tail end.
The Gower Gin Company also suggest enjoying their Dragon Strength in a Gimlet with equal parts Rose’s Lime Cordial and gin (or indeed neat over ice) but I went for the Smoky Southside which was simply stunning.
60ml Gŵyr Rhosili Dragon Strength Gin
25ml lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
Shake with ice and fine-strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and savour.
With a gin this good there’s no point stopping there though. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Dragon Strength will make a sizzling Red Snapper so that’s next on my list.
Purchase Gŵyr Rhosili Dragon Strength Gin from The Gower Gin Company at £45 for 70cl (60% ABV).
With thanks to Siân and Andrew Brooks for the complimentary bottle of Gŵyr Rhosili Dragon Strength Gin.