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Plymouth-Gin

Plymouth Gin – Everything You Need To Know

Plymouth Gin is a distinctive style of gin that originates from the city of Plymouth, in the southwest of England. It is produced at the Black Friars Distillery, England’s oldest working gin distillery, which started production in 1793. Plymouth Gin is known for its slightly sweeter and more earthy taste compared to the more typical London Dry Gins. Its flavor profile is derived from a unique blend of botanicals, which includes juniper, coriander seed, dried sweet orange peels, cardamom, angelica root, and orris root. Plymouth Gin produces various products, including Original Strength, Navy Strength (a higher proof version), and Fruit Cup (a gin-based fruit cup).

Plymouth Gin



Plymouth Gin ispopular in classic gin cocktails like the Martini and the Gimlet, where its unique flavor profile can really shine. Whether you’re a gin enthusiast or a curious newcomer, a taste of Plymouth Gin is a journey through history and flavor. It’s a gin that demands appreciation, not just for its taste but for the story it tells with every sip.

What Is Plymouth Gin?

Plymouth Gin is a brand of gin that originates from the historic port city of Plymouth in Devon, England. It is also known as a style of gin, and Plymouth Gin has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning that to be called “Plymouth Gin,” it must be produced in Plymouth according to certain specifications.

Plymouth Gin is classified as a style of gin similar to London Dry gin, but it has distinct characteristics that set it apart. It is known for its slightly sweeter and more aromatic profile compared to London Dry gin. A balanced and smooth flavor profile characterizes it. 

Plymouth Gin typically has a pronounced juniper presence, along with subtle notes of citrus, earthy botanicals, and a hint of spice. The specific botanical blend is a closely guarded secret. The botanicals used in Plymouth Gin include juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, lemon and orange peel, cardamom, and other undisclosed herbs and spices.

History of Plymouth Gin 

The history of Plymouth Gin is a fascinating journey that intertwines with the maritime heritage of England and the evolution of gin itself. Its story starts in the 18th century in Plymouth, England. The city, known for its significant naval port, provided a perfect setting for the birth of a gin that would become a naval favorite.

Black Friars Distillery

The heart of Plymouth Gin’s production is the Black Friars Distillery. This historic building, which dates back to the early 1400s, was a former monastery before it became a gin distillery in 1793. It’s one of the oldest working gin distilleries in the world. The distillery itself has a history dating back to 1431 when it was a monastery.

Naval Association

Plymouth Gin quickly became a staple among British Royal Navy officers. The Royal Navy played a crucial role in its popularity, with sailors appreciating the gin for its quality and flavor. The navy’s worldwide voyages helped spread its fame far and wide. 

Navy Strength Gin

The term “Navy Strength” gin originated with Plymouth Gin. This was a higher-proof version of the spirit, which the Royal Navy particularly favored. The higher alcohol content meant that if it was accidentally spilled on gunpowder, the gunpowder could still ignite.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)

In 2015, Plymouth Gin was granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Union. This means that to be called “Plymouth Gin,” it must be produced in Plymouth, England, adhering to specific production criteria and botanical recipes.

Historic Production Methods

Plymouth Gin has traditionally been made using copper pot stills and a one-shot method. This means that all of the botanicals are distilled together with the base spirit in a single distillation rather than adding flavors afterward. This method is believed to contribute to the gin’s integrated and balanced flavor profile.

Iconic Bottle

Plymouth Gin is recognizable by its iconic squat, round bottle with a translucent label, which has remained relatively consistent in its design for many years.

Ownership Changes

Over the years, ownership of the Plymouth Gin brand has changed hands. In 2004, the brand was acquired by the Swedish company V&S Group, which Pernod Ricard later acquired. Today, the Black Friars Distillery continues to produce Plymouth Gin under the ownership of Pernod Ricard.

Worldwide Recognition

By the 19th century, Plymouth Gin was renowned globally. It was not just a favorite in England but also in other parts of the world, thanks to the Royal Navy’s international presence. The gin became a key ingredient in numerous classic cocktails. It was particularly popular in the United States during the first few decades of the 20th century, where it was featured in the Savoy Cocktail Book, a seminal guide to cocktail making.

Today, Plymouth Gin remains a beloved spirit among gin enthusiasts and mixologists. From its origins in a historic port city to its rise as a naval favorite and a key player in the cocktail culture, Plymouth Gin’s legacy is as much about its quality as it is about its remarkable journey through time.

Did You Know?

  • Plymouth Gin is produced in the Black Friars Distillery, one of the oldest operating gin distilleries in the world, dating back to 1793.
  • Plymouth Gin was immensely popular with the British Royal Navy. Its association with the navy helped spread its fame worldwide during the height of the British Empire.
  • Until recent years, Plymouth Gin held a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), meaning it could only be legally produced in Plymouth. This status was unique among English gins.
  • The gin has been a key ingredient in numerous classic cocktails. It’s famously mentioned in the first recorded recipe for a Dry Martini in the Savoy Cocktail Book in the 1930s.
  • The gin is made using a Victorian-era recipe that includes seven botanicals – juniper, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, green cardamom, angelica root, and orris root.
  • Plymouth Gin was the gin of choice for the British Royal Navy for many years. It was stocked on naval vessels and used to make the classic Navy cocktail known as the “Pink Gin,” which combines Plymouth Gin with Angostura bitters.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, Plymouth Gin was often used for medicinal purposes. It was believed that the gin’s botanicals, particularly the juniper, had medicinal properties and could help prevent scurvy among sailors.
  • The Plymouth Gin bottle features a unique squat, round shape with a translucent label. This design has remained relatively consistent over the years and is instantly recognizable.
  • In addition to their traditional gin, Plymouth Distillery also produces Plymouth Sloe Gin, which is made by infusing sloe berries in Plymouth Gin, creating a fruity and sweet liqueur.

How Adaptable Is Plymouth Gin?

Plymouth Gin is known for its versatility, and it is considered a highly adaptable gin in the world of cocktails. Its balanced and slightly sweeter flavor profile, along with its classic juniper backbone, makes it suitable for a wide range of cocktails. Here’s how adaptable Plymouth Gin can be:

Classic Cocktails

Plymouth Gin is a popular choice for classic gin cocktails. It works well in timeless drinks like the Martini, Negroni, Gin and Tonic, Gimlet, and Tom Collins. Its balanced flavor allows it to shine in these traditional recipes.

Martini

Plymouth Gin can be used in both dry and wet Martinis. Its slightly sweeter profile adds depth and complexity to the cocktail, making it a preferred choice for those who enjoy a more well-rounded Martini.

Gin and Tonic

Plymouth Gin pairs beautifully with tonic water in a Gin and Tonic. Its juniper-forward flavor complements the bitterness of tonic, resulting in a refreshing and harmonious drink.

Negroni

The classic Negroni, which combines equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, benefits from Plymouth Gin’s balanced sweetness. It adds a unique dimension to this iconic cocktail.

Aviation

The Aviation cocktail, made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice, is enhanced by Plymouth Gin’s floral and citrus notes, creating a delightful and aromatic cocktail.

Sloe Gin Fizz

Plymouth Sloe Gin, a variation of Plymouth Gin, is often used in cocktails like the Sloe Gin Fizz. This sweet and fruity liqueur adds a unique twist to classic gin cocktails.

Cocktail Creation

Bartenders and mixologists appreciate Plymouth Gin for its adaptability in creating new and innovative cocktails. Its flavor profile allows for experimentation with a wide range of ingredients and flavors.

Culinary Cocktails

Plymouth Gin can be used in culinary cocktails that incorporate herbs, spices, and fresh ingredients. Its versatility makes it a canvas for creative cocktail creations inspired by seasonal ingredients.

Sipping Neat or on the Rocks

While Plymouth Gin is often used in cocktails, its smooth and approachable character also makes it suitable for sipping neat or on the rocks. Its slightly sweet profile can be enjoyed as a standalone spirit.

In summary, Plymouth Gin’s adaptability stems from its well-balanced flavor profile, making it an excellent choice for classic cocktails, modern mixology, and creative experimentation. Whether you prefer timeless recipes or enjoy crafting your signature cocktails, Plymouth Gin can be a versatile and enjoyable spirit to work with.

Plymouth Gin Regulations

There are different categories, such as “Gin,” “Distilled Gin,” and “London Gin,” each with specific production requirements. However, Plymouth Gin doesn’t fall into these standard categories due to its unique production and flavor profile. All gins, including Plymouth, must adhere to labeling and marketing regulations, ensuring transparency and accuracy in how they present their alcohol content, ingredients, and production methods.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)

Plymouth Gin holds a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This designation means that to be called “Plymouth Gin,” it must be produced in the historic port city of Plymouth, England, and adhere to specific criteria.

Geographical Origin

Plymouth Gin must be produced within the city limits of Plymouth to qualify as authentic Plymouth Gin. This geographical requirement ensures that the gin is produced in its historic location.

Production Location

The production of Plymouth Gin is closely associated with the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth, which is one of the oldest working gin distilleries in the world. The distillery has been producing Plymouth Gin for centuries.

Navy Strength Regulations

The Navy Strength version of Plymouth Gin, which is stronger (usually around 57% ABV), must meet additional regulations regarding its alcohol content. This higher-proof version adheres to historical standards set by the British Royal Navy.

Export Regulations

When exported, Plymouth Gin must comply with the regulations and standards of the importing country, which can vary widely.

Food and Safety Standards

As a consumable product, Plymouth Gin is subject to food and safety regulations, ensuring that it is safe for consumption and free from harmful substances.

Production Methods

Plymouth Gin is traditionally distilled in copper pot stills using a one-shot method. In this method, all of the botanicals are distilled together with the base spirit in a single distillation process. This approach contributes to the integrated and balanced flavor of the gin.

Alcohol Content

Plymouth Gin is typically bottled at 41.2% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is slightly higher than the standard 40% ABV found in many gins. The precise alcohol content is regulated to maintain consistency.

Labeling and Packaging

Authentic Plymouth Gin is often recognized by its iconic squat, round bottle with a translucent label. Labeling and packaging must adhere to specific guidelines to convey the product’s authenticity.

Quality Control

Plymouth Gin producers are committed to maintaining the gin’s high quality and consistency. Stringent quality control measures are in place to ensure that each bottle of Plymouth Gin meets the desired flavor and quality standards.

Use of the Plymouth Gin Name

The use of the name “Plymouth Gin” is protected under the PGI status. Any gin produced outside of Plymouth or failing to meet the specified criteria cannot use the “Plymouth Gin” designation.

What Are The Ingredients In Plymouth Gin?

  • Juniper Berries
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Lemon Peel
  • Orange Peel
  • Angelica Root
  • Orris Root
  • Cardamom

What Are The Tools Used To Make Plymouth Gin?

  • Copper Pot Stills
  • Fermentation Tanks
  • Cooling and Condensing System
  • Storage Tanks
  • Bottling Equipment
  • Quality Control Tools
  • Laboratory Equipment
  • Botanical Infusion Equipment
  • Storage Barrels (if applicable)

How Is Plymouth Gin Made?

The production process of Plymouth Gin is a meticulous blend of art and science, involving several key steps. Here’s an overview of how Plymouth Gin is typically made:

Selection of Botanicals

The process begins with the selection of high-quality botanicals. Plymouth Gin is known for its unique blend of botanicals, including juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica root, orris root, and cardamom pods.

Maceration

The selected botanicals are then macerated in a neutral grain spirit. This involves soaking the botanicals in the spirit for a certain period, allowing the flavors and oils to infuse into the alcohol. The duration of maceration can vary and is a key factor in determining the final flavor profile of the gin.

Distillation

After maceration, the spirit and botanical mixture is transferred to copper pot stills for distillation. Copper stills are preferred for their ability to conduct heat evenly and react with sulfur compounds in the spirit, resulting in a smoother gin. During distillation, the alcohol vapors rise through the still, capturing the flavors of the botanicals. The vapors then condense back into liquid form.

Collecting the Distillate

The distillate is collected in fractions. The first and last fractions, known as the ‘heads’ and ‘tails,’ are usually discarded because they contain undesirable flavors and compounds. The middle fraction, or the ‘heart,’ is what becomes Plymouth Gin. This part contains the optimal balance of flavors.

Dilution

The distillate is diluted to the desired bottling strength using water. The specific alcohol content, often 41.2% ABV in the case of Plymouth Gin, is achieved during this step.

Quality Control

Rigorous quality control measures are taken to ensure that each batch of Plymouth Gin meets the desired flavor and quality standards. This includes sensory evaluation, chemical analysis, and consistency checks.

Bottling

The gin is then ready for bottling. It is filled into bottles, corked or sealed, and labeled. The iconic squat, round bottle with a translucent label is a trademark of Plymouth Gin.

Aging (if applicable)

While traditional Plymouth Gin is not aged in barrels, some variations or limited editions may involve brief aging in wooden barrels, such as oak barrels. This aging process can impart additional complexity and character to the gin.

Packaging and Distribution

The bottles of Plymouth Gin are packaged for distribution and made available to consumers and bars worldwide.

The traditional production methods and choice of botanicals contribute to Plymouth Gin’s unique and well-balanced flavor profile. Its slightly sweeter and aromatic character distinguishes it from other gin styles, making it a popular choice for classic cocktails and modern mixology.

How is Plymouth Gin Different from Others?

Plymouth Gin stands out from other gins due to several distinct characteristics:

Plymouth Gin is a distinctive gin style with its unique characteristics, but it can be compared to other types of gin to highlight its differences. Here’s a comparison between Plymouth Gin and other gin styles, particularly London Dry Gin and Dutch Genever:

Geographical Origin

  • Plymouth Gin: Must be produced in Plymouth, England.
  • London Dry Gin: No specific geographical restrictions, but the term “London Dry” refers to a style rather than a location.
  • Dutch Genever: Originates from the Netherlands, particularly the cities of Amsterdam and Schiedam.

Production Method

  • Plymouth Gin: Distilled in copper pot stills using a one-shot method, where all botanicals are distilled together with the base spirit.
  • London Dry Gin: Distilled in various types of stills, including column stills, and often uses a multi-shot method, where botanicals are added to the distilled spirit.
  • Dutch Genever: Distilled using a combination of malt wine, neutral grain spirit, and botanicals. It has a maltier base compared to other gins.

Flavor Profile

  • Plymouth Gin: Known for its balanced and slightly sweet flavor profile, with prominent juniper, citrus, and spice notes.
  • London Dry Gin: Typically has a drier, more juniper-forward profile with a focus on botanicals like coriander, angelica, and citrus.
  • Dutch Genever: Has a maltier and more pronounced grain flavor due to the use of malt wine. It often has a sweeter, fuller-bodied taste.

Sweetness

  • Plymouth Gin: Slightly sweeter compared to London Dry Gin, with a noticeable sweetness on the palate.
  • London Dry Gin: Generally drier, with a crisper and more pronounced juniper bite.
  • Dutch Genever: Sweeter than both Plymouth and London Dry gins due to the malt wine base.

Cocktail Use

  • Plymouth Gin: Versatile and suitable for classic cocktails, including the Martini, Negroni, and Gimlet. Its balanced sweetness works well in various mixed drinks.
  • London Dry Gin: Commonly used in classic cocktails like the Gin and Tonic, Martini, and Tom Collins. Its dryness and juniper-forward profile make it ideal for traditional gin cocktails.
  • Dutch Genever: Often used in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Negroni. Its maltier base can add complexity to cocktails.

Historical Significance

  • Plymouth Gin: Has historical ties to the British Royal Navy and maritime traditions.
  • London Dry Gin: Associated with the city of London and has a long history in the gin industry.
  • Dutch Genever: The precursor to modern gin, with roots dating back to the 16th century in the Netherlands.

In summary, Plymouth Gin distinguishes itself with its geographical origin in Plymouth, its unique, slightly sweet flavor profile, and its association with historical naval traditions. While it shares similarities with London Dry Gin and Dutch Genever, each style has its own characteristics and historical background, catering to different taste preferences and cocktail applications.

Types of Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Original Strength Gin

  • This is the standard expression of Plymouth Gin.
  • It typically has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 41.2%.
  • Known for its smooth, rich, and balanced flavor, this gin features a unique blend of botanicals, including juniper, coriander seed, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica root, orris root, and cardamom.
  • Its well-rounded profile makes it versatile for various gin-based cocktails and is particularly favored in classics like the Martini and the Gimlet.

Plymouth Navy Strength Gin

  • A stronger version of Plymouth Gin, the Navy Strength is famous for its historical connection to the British Royal Navy.
  • It has a higher ABV, typically around 57%, which was the traditional strength required by the British Royal Navy.
  • Despite its higher alcohol content, it maintains a balanced flavor profile, with a more pronounced intensity of the botanicals.
  • This gin is a favorite for many bartenders in cocktail making, particularly in drinks where a more robust gin flavor is desired.

Special Editions (Occasional)

  • From time to time, Plymouth Gin releases special editions or limited batches that may feature unique twists on the classic recipe, different botanical blends, or special aging processes.
  • These are less common and are typically sought after by collectors and gin enthusiasts.

The primary difference between these types is their strength (ABV) and the intensity of flavor, with the Navy Strength offering a more robust profile compared to the Original Strength. Both types, however, maintain the distinct Plymouth Gin character, marked by a balanced blend of botanicals and a smooth finish.

Buy Plymouth Gin Online

“Plymouth Gin” isn’t a gin category like “London Dry Gin” with multiple producers. Instead, it’s a specific brand and style of gin that, historically, was tied to its geographic production area in Plymouth, England. The only brand producing Plymouth Gin is the Plymouth Gin itself, made at the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth. This distillery is England’s oldest working gin distillery and has been producing Plymouth Gin since 1793. So, while many brands produce gin globally, with many styles and flavor profiles, Plymouth Gin is specific to the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth.

Plymouth Gin



Recipe Variation

Plymouth Gin’s distinct and balanced flavor profile makes it a versatile cocktail choice. Here are some classic and contemporary cocktails that showcase Plymouth Gin, along with some variations:

Plymouth Martini

Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 0.5 oz dry vermouth
  • Lemon twist or olive for garnish Variation: Use a pickled onion for garnish to make it a Gibson.

Instructions

Mix up the gin and vermouth with ice in a mixing glass until chilled. Filter into a chilled martini glass and garnish. 

Variation

Garnish with a pickled onion instead of an olive or lemon twist for a Gibson.

Gimlet

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz lime cordial or fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish.

Variation

Muddle fresh basil leaves before shaking for a Basil Gimlet.

Negroni

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • Orange twist for garnish 

Instructions

Stir ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Filter and pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish.

Variation

Replace Campari with Aperol for a slightly sweeter, less bitter drink.


Tom Collins

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Lemon wedge and cherry for garnish

Instructions

Mix the gin, lemon juice, and syrup with ice. Filter and pour into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish. 

Variation

Add a splash of elderflower liqueur for an Elder Collins.

Pink Gin

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Plymouth Navy Strength Gin
  • A few dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

Add bitters directly, swirl to coat the glass, and dump the excess. Add gin, and either serve neat or over ice, garnished with a lemon twist. 

Variation

Replace Angostura with orange bitters for a citrusy twist.

Plymouth Sloe Gin Fizz

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
  • 0.5 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Lemon twist or cherry for garnish

Instructions

Mix all ingredients (except club soda) with ice. Filter and pour into a tall glass with ice and top with club soda. Garnish. 

Variation

Add an egg white, shake without ice to emulsify, then shake with ice and strain for a creamy, frothy texture.

Bramble

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • 0.5 oz blackberry liqueur (like Crème de Mûre)
  • Fresh blackberry for garnish Variation: Muddle fresh raspberries at the base of the glass and use raspberry liqueur for a Raspberry Bramble.

Instructions

Jiggle gin, lemon juice, and syrup with ice. Filter into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Shower the blackberry liqueur over the top and garnish with fresh blackberries. 

Variation

Use raspberries and raspberry liqueur for a Raspberry Bramble.

These recipes offer a starting point to enjoy the versatility of Plymouth Gin. Adjust according to personal taste preferences and enjoy responsibly. Cheers!

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