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James May launches Navy Strength gin

James May is following up the success of his James Gin: Asian Parsnip with a limited UK release of 1,420 bottles of Asian Parsnip: Navy Strength.


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May’s foray into gin making has been chronicled on his FoodTube YouTube channel, which has more than 380k subscribers. In the buildup to the original release of Asian Parsnip, May starred in a series of videos recording how he made each decision in the distillation and branding process, including choosing parsnip as the primary flavour of the spirit. The first batch sold so well that a second was promptly produced and sold overseas.

The release of a “Navy Strength” gin came about when a fan from the US emailed inquiring about it. In the announcement video for the new gin, James is joined by Hugh Anderson, of Downton Distillery in Wiltshire, where Asian Parsnip was produced. Anderson explains that the term “Navy Strength” derives from the use of 100 proof gin onboard naval vessels so that if it were to contaminate the gunpowder, the powder would still ignite.

Whereas a bottle of second batch Asian Parsnip costs £39, a Navy Strength bottle costs £55, due to the 57% ABV incurring higher duties. Whereas the Asian Parsnip bottles were hand-signed by May, he declared that he couldn’t “really be arsed” this time. Instead, a QR code linking to a video of May will be on the back label of each Navy Strength bottle.

This first run is limited to the UK, leaving the American fan who suggested the idea waiting. But, it can be anticipated that if it sells well domestically, there will be a second run for international gin lovers and Grand Tour fans.

In recent years, May has reinvented himself as a Keith Floyd-esque gastronomic authority. In addition to the gin, he co-owns a pub in Wiltshire and presented a cookery show for Amazon Prime. And he is not the only member of the formerly-Top Gear trio to turn their hand to drinks. Jeremy Clarkson released Hawkstone Lager, brewed by The Cotswold Brewing Company using barley from Clarkson’s own Diddly Squat Farm. Both May and Clarkson have used social media heavily to promote their products, though, predictably, Clarkson favours controversy in his approach to marketing.

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