Plymouth Gin

Plymouth GinAt one point, Plymouth Gin was considered a geographically protected product within the E.U. In 2014,  Pernod Ricard declared their intentions to not renew the designation [sources: Plymouth Herald, The Spirits Business, Wall Street Journal]. As you can see, this was quite the news. Plymouth Gin once could only be produced in Plymouth.

But under the E.U. regulations set forth in Regulation (EC) No. 110/2008 stated that all spirits with protection must issue a technical file with ” a description of the spirit drink including the principal physical, chemical and/or organoleptic characteristics of the product” and “a description of the method for obtaining the spirit drink and, if appropriate, the authentic and unvarying local methods.” In other words, given that Plymouth Gin is one of a kind Pernod Ricard would have had to give away the recipe for Plymouth Gin in order to maintain its protection. Wisely, they let it lapse.

You’ll still see vestiges of its time as a protected spirit drink in numerous articles on the internet referring to the “Plymouth Style.”

Plymouth’s modern brand identity ties together several strands of English history. The Plymouth Gin Distillery was once a monastery and even a prison prior to becoming a distillery.  The Plymouth Distillery’s proximity to the  Royal William Victualling Yard in Plymouth made it an ideal location for supplying naval officers with gin. If you drank gin while in the British Royal Navy, it was probably Plymouth Gin. The brand dates back to at least the early nineteenth century and perhaps even further. It’s one of the oldest gin brands still being produced today, though it’s had a somewhat discontinuous history, meaning its ascent in the gin world is a surprisingly recent phenomenon.

Tasting Notes

A lovely nose with an unusual earthy melange of angelica and juniper, with subtle camphoraceous tinges of cardamom and coriander. It’s softly juniper forward. Others have written before that Plymouth Gin’s credibility as a style unto itself stem from this unusual earthy nose. To me it the nose suggests that angelica is almost as much of a key component of the botanical blend as is juniper.

The palate is where I think Plymouth Gin shines. The early palate is softly earthy and gentle piney simultaneously brings together angelica, cardamom, lemon zest, sweet orange and juniper. I get intimations of botanicals which are not even here, such as nutmeg. The palate is soft, oily and gently warming. The finish leads into a soft citrus and earthiness. Only moderate length, angelica and coriander seem to be the last two standing. Absolutely beautiful, Plymouth Gin is one of my favorites.

Cocktails

Bartenders in the last decade have made Plymouth Gin a common house pour. And this is simply because Plymouth Gin works in nearly every cocktail application. It makes one of the best Dry Martinis, but also has the softness and earthiness to work in more extreme applications like the 2:1 Martini or the dreaded Dirty Martini. The olive brine marries nicely with the earthiness and subtle pine.

I think it makes a gentle Gin and Tonic. Delicious, but subtle. I find that the juniper and citrus come through more strongly with a little bit of effervescence.

But going deeper, Plymouth makes among my favorite Blue Moon Cocktail and Aviations. The violet seems so much brighter when paired with this gin. I also have found that it makes the best Ramos Gin Fizz owing to its subtly. Plymouth continuously surprises me because while it never comes across as overwhelming, it always seems to come through. It really is the perfect balance for a house pour. It works well in everything. Home cocktail connoisseurs could take note from the industry, as this gin is a versatile addition to any home cocktail cabinet.

Overall

You can throw my praise in as another accolade on the heap of accolades that Plymouth Gin has already won. There are few gins as versatile and as well made as Plymouth Gin. It’s no wonder that they didn’t want to give away their recipe to preserve their GI protected status.

Highly Recommended. 

 

 

 

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Readers' Reviews

by Bill

Plymouth Gin is THE benchmark gin. I have many favorites. But if I could choose only one gin to drink until done, it would have to be Plymouth. I discovered it in Maine via a conversation with a real old pro bartender. I asked him how he would concoct a martini at home. He said: "Plymouth with Dolin - standard, not too dry." He changed my life.

by Grainne Salino

I only discovered this gin a month ago in a restaurant in Ridgefield. I can honestly say I will never ever drink any other gin ever again. It is spectacular, clean and smooth and delicious. The best martini you will ever taste. I'm seriously obsessed. I ordered two bottles from Stew Leonard's. Loooove.

by Mike G.

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.

Last updated May 9th, 2017 by Aaron

21 thoughts on “Plymouth Gin

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  • December 10, 2013by Petulant Frenzy

    The more time I spend with this creation out of Plymouth, the better I get to know the depth of its personality. It has all the foundations of a classic English gin, yet as Aaron writes, it starts out citrus, albeit a complex one, then sheds a few complex perfumey layers and finally comes back home to juniper. That time, between the first recognizable citrus note, and the final juniper heat is a great experience. It is backsweetened to extend the dimensions on the palate. Drink this gin neat and at room temp if you are going to drink a gin neat and at room temp. The new package design is outstanding. Enjoy a few good sips with the bottle in hand and the experience is elevated.

  • December 13, 2013by Ben D

    I love Plymouth. That being said, in my area it’s almost twice the price of Broker’s or Beefeater. When I get a bottle of Plymouth, I tend to make that sucker last as long as possible. Great in a Martini (3:1) or a gin and tonic.

  • June 3, 2014by Doc

    Plymouth i.m.h.o. represents the tradition of the world of gin. absolutely a must-have in my personal bottles. I personally like to consume it in a “pink gin tonic” prepared by mixing gin with ice and a few drops of Angostura and completed with tonic (Schweppes Heritage or f.t. will perfectly work) : Practically perfect.

  • June 10, 2014by Charles

    Couldn’t agree more about Plymouth – the best widely available gin in the world. Where I live, it’s comparable in price to Hendrick’s, which I also enjoy, but the Scottish gin is too distinctive for regular drinking – it’s an occasional gin. It’s the super-clean astringency of Plymouth that makes it the quintessential gin – it purifies the palate every time.

  • August 9, 2014by Daniel

    I have finally tried Plymouth, and while it is indeed an excellent gin, I must take issue with the predominance of juniper. I find the juniper somewhat muted compared to the London drys such as Beefeater. It certainly is smoother and more “well knit” than most American gins, although the comparison with Bluecoat is undeniable. It makes one hell of a martini, 4:1 with Noilly Pratt and lime, which helps to brighten it.
    I’ve recently been drinking Martin Miller’s, Beefeater, and Greenhook. Love Greenhook w a bit of vermouth to tame it’s hot finish. Can’t wait to try these with Channing Daughter’s Winery vermouths.

  • August 21, 2014by Evangelos Grambas

    I would never have picked out that slightly oily after-taste had you not pointed it out. Not saying that that is all I learned from your review, just the most interesting one for me. I really love this gin.

  • September 3, 2014by Lauritz Todd

    Thank you for your review. I have enjoyed Plymouth Gin and started adding it to my cabinet after reading a few Travis McGee novels that were written by John D. MacDonald. He (Travis) was frequently on the deck of his Busted Flush house boat pondering life with his good friend Meyer. With that said, I find the juniper and citrus very subtle and normally drink it with a light squeeze of lime and in those cases of extreme summer a splash of tonic (need to try with a drop of bitters as Doc suggested.) I need to think about the “slight oily” aftertaste since it has not been pronounced and will need to compare to my other gins.

  • September 8, 2014by Charles

    How good to find Travis McGee’s name here and in the company of his favorite spirit. Plymouth really is the gold standard of true gins (as opposed to all those new, floral concoctions). Has anyone tried Langley’s No. 8? Launched last year in the U.K., newly available here and the subject of a nice little piece in last weekend’s Wall St. Journal (Sept. 5).

  • February 15, 2015by John

    Have to agree. Plymouth is a top ten gin. Maybe not a 5 star but close. Smooth and it really exemplifies what gin should be.

  • February 16, 2015by AaronPost author

    John,
    Thanks for all of your comments- sorry it took me so long to clear them all. Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts- I hear you on the other ones. I might have been a little forgiving on G’vine while I was rather harsh on Nolet’s, though I think G’vine is definitely more “gin-like” for my taste. I could do many gin-like things with it, but very few with Nolet. I enjoy Brandon’s, but I can hear where it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. And of course Plymouth, good stuff.

    Keep enjoying the good stuff,
    Cheers,
    Aaron

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  • July 20, 2015by Seaskidawg

    Plymouth gin also figures predominantly in Len Deighton’s cold war masterpiece Bernard Samson series (abbrev., Game, Set, Match; Hook, Line, Sinker; Faith, Hope, Charity). The SIS resident in Berlin, Frank Harrington, favors Plymouth Gin with bitters. He drinks them at his favorite Berlin hotel run by an indefatigable (and, perhaps, unrepentant Nazi) Lisl Hennig.

  • July 23, 2015by Christopher

    Been drinking Plymouth gin since college 40 years ago. Read all the Travis McGee novels growing up and couldn’t wait to try it. Been drinking it ever since. Tastes change, and the McGee novels don’t hold up so well for me now, but the gin is still wonderful.

  • August 30, 2015by Stefanos Michalis

    Hello Aaron I just discovered your site and I like it very much, you do very nice reviews. My favorite drink is Gin and Tonic. My favorite gin (till now) is Beefeater and Beefeater 24, and I use schweppes tonic. I am curious as to why you have not reviewed these 2 gins yet. Are you planning to review these 2 in the future? Also I would really like to try some new gins (for G&T, and maybe neat) in the coming months. I read your reviews and I will sure try Broker’s , Martin Miller’s and Plymooth gin. Any reccomendation as to which should I try first? Last, could you suggest to me a widely available tonic that is a little sweeter than schweppes and maybe better quality?

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  • March 3, 2016by RV LITTLE

    EVERYWHERE I GO I RECOMMEND THE BAR MANAGER ORDER PLYMOUTH GIN FOR THE BACK BAR. HERE IN THE WEST IT IS HARD TO FIND? SO SMOOTH IT IS AND I FIND IT NOT HOT AS SO MANY OTHER GINS ARE! I AGREE IT MAKES A PERFECT MARTINI.

  • January 11, 2017by Steve Pearson

    I‘m a Naval officer and have been a gin diner for 50 years. Quite frankly, there is no other gin.

  • July 8, 2017by Anonymous

    I rarely drink it because it’s a little above my pay grade … but having said that … it’s rally my all time favorite. it’s simply perfect … straight or mixed.

  • July 14, 2017by Charles Michener

    The renewed interest in gin, sparked by the myriad “craft” varieties produced in places as far-flung as the Black Forest, Scotland and State of Maine, is the best thing that’s happened in the world of (alcoholic) spirits since the witches got together in “Macbeth.” I’ve been through many of the nouveaux-riches in this storied category of good drink – a long infatuation with Hendrick’s, shorter ones with Nolet, Martin Miller’s, Aviation and numerous more local brands – and they’ve all become tiresome, cloying, kind of weird. (The best of the parvenus is The Botanist – almost too perfect (e.g. the Taj Mahal) – to be interesting.} Great brands have legs. They tend to cost more. So what, among gins, lingers longest? Plymouth, hands-down. It’s got everything that a great gin is supposed to have – an astringent, initial snap; a beckoning gentleness; and a strong finish. As with great art, whether visual, musical or literary, it feel complete – fresh but inevitable. (I don’t taste “juniper” or “citrus” or “herbal.”) I read somewhere that when Julia Child was asked to name her favorite French wine, she said: “GIN.” She was surely thinking of Plymouth.

  • August 31, 2017by Colin Stein

    Someone on here has made a grave error in tagging Plymouth Gin as Scottish. As the name implies it is made in Plymouth which is in the county of Devon, England. For all the Americans out there who seem to know very little about the British Isles, Devon is in the South West of England and just about as far away from Scotland as you can possibly get in the UK.

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