What's the difference between Navy Strength, London Dry, Plymouth and Old Tom Gin?

Despite the gin markets rapid growth, the brands on the markets can be further differentiated from one another by their style. We thought we'd share with you 4 of the main gin styles used today and how they differ from one another, starting off with our very own distillation process used here at Darnley's Gin, London Dry.

London Dry

London Dry is currently the most popular style of gin on the market, with the majority of big name brands offering the 'London Dry style'. Here at Darnley's we have also opted for this style as we feel it aligns with our brand. 

The method of distillation means that our gin distiller, Scott Gowans, adds all of our locally foraged and responsibly sourced botanicals in to the pot still to infuse the spirit. Following the distillation process we do not add or enhance the final spirit with any flavourings or colourings, making Darnley's Gin as natural as possible. This is something as a brand that we are very passionate about as we pride ourselves on our sustainable practices and our brand ethos 'Nature distilled'.

Old Tom


If you've ever heard of the Genever, a Holland native spirit also referred to as 'Dutch gin'(although it doesn't technically have the characteristics to be classed as gin). Old Tom can be described as the middle ground spirit between Genever and London Dry. The Old Tom gin style is lighter and less malty than Genever while it does not compete with the spicy notes of a London Dry gin style. It is a sweeter, less-botanical version of most gins found on the market today and can be a great way to begin drinking the divisive spirit. Due to prohibition, Old Tom gin was left behind while London Dry Gin triumphed ahead. The Old Tom style is back by popular demand however, as a special ingredient in cocktail serves.


Plymouth style of gin is said to be relatively close to that of London Dry Gin- style however there are a few differences in the taste profile. This style is described as "earthy", dry and displaying more citrus flavours.

Plymouth gin uses signature botanicals including juniper berries, sweet angelica root, lemon peel, cardamom pods, sweet orange peel, coriander seeds, and orris root. These ingredients are added to a wheat base which is often described as 'buttery'.

Navy Strength

Navy Strength has a higher alcohol percentage (at least 57% ABV). This style dates back to the 18th century when the British Navy stored their gin next to the gunpower on their ships. In the case of an accidental spillage of gin that would potentially mix with the neighbouring gun powder, the alcohol was required to be Navy Strength to ensure the powder would still able be able to explode.

Our Navy Strength edition of our award-winning Spiced Gin was inspired by the illustrious Royal Navy career of our ancestor Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, who commanded ships around the world and rose to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. During his time at sea, ships’ officers still enjoyed a daily ration of gin which had to pass a gunpowder test to prove it was over 57% alcohol and therefore Navy Strength.

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