Is it possible to overproof gin? It is and Chemist Spirits of Asheville, North Carolina, has—deliciously. The distillery’s newest release, Navy Strength Gin, is a throwback to this historic and storied variety of gin offering proof that ‘overproof’ varieties of gin are alive and well. So what is overproof anyway?
More than a century ago, long before scientific measures of ‘alcohol by volume’ were available, folks needed a way to know the strength of their liquor. As the story goes (and has been retold and likely embellished a time or two) sailors in the Royal Navy were known to mix their beverage of choice with a bit of gunpowder and if it ignited, that served as “proof” that at least half the content was alcohol. Does that mean overproof sank their ships? Not at all. But it does pack a delightfully surprising punch.
Proof, by definition, is twice the alcohol content by volume. So a 100-proof gin is 50 percent alcohol.
Navy Strength Gin by Chemist Spirits is 57.1 percent alcohol by volume and therefore exceeds the 100-proof mark making it an overproof gin.
The timing of Chemist’s Navy Strength Gin release is as smooth as the gin itself since 2020 marks the 100thyear of prohibition, when the ‘chemists,’ for whom the distillery is named, kept spirited and secretive libations flowing.