Don’t Get Shipwrecked
The Navy had a foundational influence on the development of gin from its earliest days, with both the British Royal Navy and the Dutch East India Company responsible for much of the spice trade which brought key botanicals to English and Dutch distillers. The relationship was symbiotic, as the Navy was many distilleries’ largest client for more than three centuries, while sailors on shore leave were responsible for introducing ports around the world to gin’s delights.
Back in the early 1800s, Navy Strength gin was invented by the Royal Navy’s victuallers with a specific purpose: it had to be over 57% strength because gin was commonly stowed alongside gunpowder in ships holds. Operational health and safety wasn’t the same back then, meaning that spillages were frequent – and if your gunpowder got wet on the High Seas, you were in big trouble. But if that alcohol was of 57% strength or above, it would still ignite. How did the British Navy check that unscrupulous suppliers weren’t watering down their spirit? Easy – they set fire to it. If the gin burnt with a blue flame, it was over 57%. We at The Cannabis Co like to push the envelope, so we went for 58% – our Navy Strength has been designed to ensure that your cannons always fire, meaning you won’t get shipwrecked in a High Seas battle.
Drink Your Ration
Life on the High Seas was no cup of tea. The majority of sailors were press-ganged, which means being kidnapped and forced into service. Tens of thousands of men awoke on a warship departing Portsmouth or Devonport, wondering what happened to them. Malnourished and abused, they were indentured into hard labour and regularly subject to arbitrary brutal discipline by sadistic captains. Most sailors died not in battle, but from disease. At the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) between Admiral Nelson’s Great Britain and Napoleon Bonaparte’s France, more men died from illness than from enemy action, at a ratio of 6:1. Tropical diseases were common – fevers and malaria were rife, and kidney stones from poor diets left men in constant agony. Amputation was commonplace due to the carnage wreaked by cannonballs in sea battles, and one of the biggest killers was bacterial infections.
Was it any wonder the poor fellows flocked to gin like ducks to water?
Indeed, the widely popular Gimlet cocktail was invented by a physician of the Royal Navy named Sir Thomas Gimlette as a health drink. It encouraged sailors to mix their daily gin ration with their daily lime ration so as to prevent scurvy. A fascinating early example of a controlled clinical trial is to be found in James Lind’s (1716-1794) pioneering work investigating scurvy (the single biggest scourge of the High Seas). A Scottish doctor, Lind selected 12 sailors with serious inflammation-related conditions typical to scurvy. Each of the patients received different diets, with the most dramatic recovery seen in two sailors who received a citrus-heavy diet. One of them was fit for duty in less than a week, and despite the considerable cost of citrus fruits, Lind’s results were so impressive that by 1795 the Royal British Navy was taking on routine stores of lemons and limes. With a tip of the hat to Doctor Lind, we added not just lime juice but heaps of lime peel and grapefruit peel as key botanicals in our High Seas Navy Strength Hemp Gin.
To Your Health
An early tome of Navy medicine published in 1770 (The Marine Practice of Physic and Surgery, by William Northcote) warned against “amorous dalliance with women, obscene books and whatever inflames the fancy”, which ironically is exactly what you will find in Melbourne’s Northcote, one of our old haunts. Although we’re in favour of all the above, and while we relish all that which inflames our fancy, we do not wish to inflame our bodies.
Let’s be clear here: we’re absolutely not saying that alcohol is good for you. However, as reviews and press began pouring in for our first two gins, articles from Body + Soul, Australian Financial Review and Gourmet Traveller focused heavily on the potential health benefits of our gins. We started thinking, “what if we actually tried to make a gin that focused exclusively on botanicals which have a wide range of serious health benefits?”. And so we did.
As with every single one of our products, functional health is no excuse for poor palatability: it’s got to taste good – really good. We needed to balance the strength of the alcohol with earthy savoury spice notes. Delicate is not the word – it had to be hefty, and so the 13 botanicals aren’t just best-in-class for their anti-inflammatory benefits, but they all pack a flavourful punch. We loaded up the tank with juniper, coriander, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, cinnamon, grapefruit and lime, all of which are renowned for their strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidising benefits. Likewise, they all help with skin conditions and digestion, while protecting against heart disease and cancer. Almost half of our selected botanicals have noted benefits around menstrual cramps and pain, and many have manifold antiseptic benefits in addition to helping with issues related to sleep, muscle and joint pain, brain function, diabetes, alzheimers, allergies, immunity, cholesterol, eye care, liver, arthritis and gut health.
That’s nothing new though – people have been using healthy botanicals in gin for centuries. The true innovation (pioneered with our first gins and further refined here) is once again reaping massive rewards: the addition of cannabis terpenes.
With an alcohol as strong as our Navy Strength, the choice of terpene was clear: it had to be Beta-Caryophyllene, an absolute powerhouse in terms of health benefits. Beta-Caryophyllene is one of the five most dominant terpenes found in cannabis and has an affinity towards the CB2 cannabinoid receptor, present in your body’s endocannabinoid system. Several recent studies have suggested that the CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain play a major role in feeding behavior, addiction and alcohol reward, and are even protective against chronic and binge alcohol intake-induced liver injury and inflammation. Beta-Caryophyllene has noted benefits related to anti-aging (as a lipofuscin decreaser), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, seizures as an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, anti-depressant, cardioprotective against heart tissue damage, anti-oxidative, neuroprotection, liver as a hepatoprotective, pain as an analgesic / anti-hypernociceptive, anti-mutagen, anticancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease (PD), proapoptotic, gastroprotective, immunomodulatory, neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative diseases, neuroinflammation, metabolic diseases, and kidneys as a nephroprotective.
Does that all sound too good to be true? Don’t trust us – do your own research and you’ll find the same.
Wherever you may roam, in any port around the globe, a common phrase can be heard when the sound of clinking glass fills the air: to your health!