Shropshire Star

New 'navy-strength' gin honours voyage of Shrewsbury's most famous son

Charles Darwin’s epic voyage of discovery, aboard HMS Beagle, has been honoured with the launch of a barrel-aged navy-strength gin said to be similar to the potent tot drunk by sailors 200 years ago.

Naval veterans Colin Hopkisson, Terry Weston, and Graham Meredith, joined Darren Tomkins from Gindifferent to sample the tipple.

The Shrewsbury Gin company’s Beagle navy-strength edition is aged in oak, as it would have been traditionally, and bottled at an alcohol content of 57 per cent. Its label claims to “warm the hearts of even the saltiest sea dogs”.

To put that theory to the test Shrewsbury Gin invited veteran sailors, from the town’s Royal Naval Association, to its gin bar, Gindifferent, in Shrewsbury Market Hall, to get a taste of the type of ‘gunpowder gin’ that would have been drunk aboard HMS Beagle on its voyage to survey the coast of South America between 1831 and1836.

Darwin, then aged 22, was the ship’s naturalist. It was during the ship’s visit to the Galapagos Islands that he began to formulate his ideas on natural selection and evolution.

“Being Shrewsbury Gin we wanted to do something that was a homage to the history of Shrewsbury and the town’s favourite son, Charles Darwin,” said Darren Tomkins, gin bar owner and curator of Shrewsbury Gin.

“There are a lot of distilleries doing navy gin and a lot doing aged gin, but very few doing barrel-aged strength. Our Beagle edition, developed with Henstone Distillery, in Oswestry, is a proper navy strength barrel-aged gin.