My Story

I have spent 37 years in the Royal Marines and had a fantastic career that took me all over the world serving in far-flung parts of the globe including the Arctic, Antarctic, Middle East, the Americas, Africa and the Indo-Pacific. I have always been an avid whisky fan but the story really starts during my second tour with 45 Commando based in Arbroath, Scotland.  The Officers’ Mess has a decades old tradition that dictates an officer leaving the unit presents the Mess with a bottle of single malt not currently in its collection.

It was well known that the Mess had an extensive selection, but to verify this the Scottish Whisky Association was invited to come and inspect it.  A representative was duly despatched and he confirmed that we had nearly the largest private collection in Scotland - second only to the Gleneagles Hotel!

At the end of his visit, a few of us were offered a whisky tasting. We spent a very pleasant evening going through samples that characterise the five regions of Scottish whisky.  Once we had tasted the regional examples and could pick out the characteristics of each region, he informed us that he was going to teach us how to become “master blenders”.  We followed his suggestions and each blended our own flavours based upon the previous five whiskies we had sampled. Hey presto we were then presented our “Master Blender for a day”certificate!

Commando Spirit is born

Another 20 years passed and I would often blend whiskies using a decanter. However, on my 53rd birthday, Amanda, my wife, gave me a small oak barrel or cask. The barrel held about a litre and on the front was engraved ‘Rory’s barrel aged Commando Spirit est 1965’.

A week later she presented me with an engraved decanter and two matching engraved tumblers, so that once I had blended my whisky I had somewhere to store it enabling me to blend the next batch. Thus Command Spirit was born and my blending became serious(ish)!

As I approached my retirement from the Royal Marines, in early 2021, I worked with a small distill-ery in Scotland and we created Commando Spirit blended whisky. Our initial batch of scotch sold out within 24 hours and over the subsequent years we developed a strong following. In 2023 we concluded our joint venture and are now relaunching Commando Spirit as a brand with new design and offerings.

Expanding the brand

Three years after launching, and with several thousand bottles sold, we are now expanding the Commando Spirit brand to include other spirits. Whilst whisky, specifically scotch, will always remain the foundation of our brand many of our supporters have asked for alternatives.

We are excited to announce that have partnered with an artisan distillery on the edge of Dartmoor with whom we have created a bespoke gin. While retaining the brand name of Commando Spirit we have named the gin, Chin Strapped Gin. The phrase ‘Chin Strapped’ is from the military slang synonymous with Commando training. The arduous nature of the course means that individuals often feel ‘chin strapped’ or very tired, as if hanging from the chin strap of their helmet!

I am most grateful to both serving and former members of the Royal Marines, including the Royal Marines Association, as well as Army and Navy Commandos plus friends for their support in bringing the Commando Spirit to the community. In an effort to honour the Commandos, we will donate money to Commando charities.

Rory Copinger-Symes CBE


Chin Strapped Gin

Chin Strapped Gin is an elite flavoured spirit that encourages a culture of positive wellbeing and comradeship.  It connects the memories of the past with thehopes of tomorrow. It is a gin to be savoured and shared.

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