I have covered American Dry and London Dry styles of gin at length. I’ve talked about Genever. So that really leaves Old Tom and Plymouth as the two types I haven’t covered. Today, we’re going to fill in one of these glaring omissions: Plymouth Gin.
Plymouth Gin is a combination terroir/trademark. Only one maker is permitted to use the term “Plymouth Gin” and that is the distillery Plymouth, Coates and Co. which is located on the port of Plymouth on the English Channel. Plymouth gin is one of those odd examples where the brand and the style are one and the same. So this review will talk about Plymouth, but also more generally the style.
The flavors are not out of the ordinary for gin. There’s a strong citrus element and a strong juniper element. The flavor is smooth, but astringent. It has a bit of an oily lingering, but very pleasant mouth feel. It makes for a superb martini (in fact is the gin style that Winston Churchhill preferred for his famous no-vermouth martini) and a stunning gin and tonic. The smooth citrus and predominating juniper makes it a perfect example of what a gin and tonic in its platonic ideal should be. Whereas many non-traditional gins don’t pair well with lime- Plymouth and Limes were meant to be in drinks together. In fact, as it is almost a classical example of gin it excels in almost any cocktail across the spectrum.
Compared to American Dry?
I think that Plymouth has a direct comparison across the pond. Bluecoat Gin, which is considered an American Dry style also exhibits a similar orange/citrus and juniper profile. This is a perfect place to compare the difference between the two styles. Whereas, Plymouth feels smoother and cleaner and exhibits a strong juniper finish to compliment the citrus, Bluecoat goes for depth and and a different kind of complexity. Bluecoat feels less sharp and more citrus. Though Plymouth starts out citrus, it comes back home. Which means in some cocktails there’s a bit of dissonance which begins to resolve itself in classic style; Bluecoat embraces its points of difference and doesn’t quite resolve on that juniper note. While both are stunning and worth gins, Plymouth feels classical and shares more in common with London Dry than it does American Dry.
On Drinking Plymouth
This is a gin that for one reason or another I overlooked for a long time. It is smooth, it is versatile, and above all its a gin which compliments everything that a gin is supposed to compliment. I’ve found it to be a gin which I come back to time and time again and think it is a worthy and flexible addition to my gin cabinet.
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Widely acknowledged as the best gin in the world, bar none. It's exactly what gin should be, hovering somewhere citrus and juniper on the gin scale, but eschewing the floral excesses of, say, Hendricks. It is sharp, clean and to the point. It will raise the standards of any gin-based cocktail, but try it in a Hanky Panky, a shamefully forgotten concoction devised by the first ever female barmaid at London's Savoy Hotel, circa 1920.