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New Columbia Distillers, the producer of Green Hat Gin, is adding a second signature gin to its repertoire. Founders John Uselton and Michael Lowe will debut Navy Strength Gin at the Ivy City distillery on Feb. 21 with a release party at Boundary Road on Feb. 18.

Navy Strength is stronger than other gins that New Columbia has produced at 114 proof (57 percent alcohol). Historically, British navy sailors got gin (or rum) as part of their rations. They discovered that if they mixed it with gun powder, it would ignite if the alcohol was at least 114 proof. That’s how they knew the booze wasn’t watered down.

New Columbia’s version of the juniper-forward gin still has a bit of a twist with ginger and “a good bit of citrus.” Uselton describes it as more traditional than the original herbal Green Hat. “It’s really great in cocktails,” he says. And the higher proof “gives you a little bit more of a punch with the botanicals.”

The gin will be available year-round and should start showing up at retail outlets, bars, and restaurants around the beginning of March. The suggested retail price is $38.99. 

Meanwhile, Uselton and Lowe are working on an apple brandy. Maryland-based cidery Millstone contacted them last spring looking to make a pommeau (a blend of cider and apple spirit). New Columbia hadn’t done any fruit distillations, so they decided to try distilling the cider. The experiment went well, so Millstone connected them with an orchard for New Columbia to make their own apple brandy. One barrel will use McIntosh apples, and another will use Staymans. Uselton says they plan to age the spirits for one to two years.

Photo courtesy New Columbia Distillers