Plymouth Gin

Flavor Profile

Gin Flavor Visualization for

At 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.


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.


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. 





Leave a Comment

40 thoughts on “Plymouth Gin”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Plymouth can certainly make a stunning base spirit. Of many gins, their base alcohol is the smoothest, most rounded, and softest of any. It is a truly fantastic slate to build upon. I wish they made this in a vodka.

    As for the gin itself, I find it a bit woody, with a nutty, parsnip flavor and rooty note that reminds me of radish, carrot, beet and soil. It’s not entirely offensive, but once I began notice the parsnip root flavor, I had a hard time thinking of anything except pies, puddings and winter cellar vegetables.

    I love the packaging. It is just beautiful in the retro simplicity. As price goes, it’s quite fair at USD $24 in the midwestern store I shopped recently.

    The flavors are well balanced, with nothing dominating. But as a whole, it’s a bit too earthy for my taste.

  5. Sorry I’m not buying it. It has a rather sterile chemical nose if such a
    Thing exists-a job part done or not at all. It is ideal for a
    Dirty martini but as a drinker in its own, and. Compared to similar
    Priced gins such as Sipsmith it doesn’t hold up. Overrated
    and I couldn’t sip it.

  6. I found everything about the review to be spot on with one exception and it’s not a quibbling one. The finish is not moderate; it’s quite short and abrupt, causing an immediate let down.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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).

  15. 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.

  16. 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,

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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?


  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Even though I have been a one-drink-before-dinner gin drinker (martinis and G&T) for 50+ years, I was only recently re-introduced to Plymouth on the Queen Elizabeth while running the length of the Mediterranian to Croatia and back. On a previous voyage on the Queen Mary 2 (transatlantic you must try it at least once in your life), we had fallen in love with the QM2 version of 3 Queens Gin but you can’t buy it anywhere but on board ship, So, the QE bartender suggested Plymouth and it is now the gin of choice in our house. I prefer Cinzano blanc instead of the standard grocery store vermouths. So, Plymouth + Cinzano is quite tasty. Best with a twist. Cannot tolerate dirty anything, especially martinis. Oh, the price here in the states? $37 ++ at a state run store.

  25. I took the “distillery” tour and they explained many of the ingredients – including angelica root.
    You write that “Pernod Ricard would have had to give away the recipe for Plymouth Gin in order to maintain its protection” but I think it is more about the fact that when the spirit was actually being distilled elsewhere and supposedly brought to infuse at the Plymouth location in order to gain the protected “Plymouth” – but the brand became too popular and there was no way they could produce it all at the tiny facility within Plymouth.
    And for the Brit who thinks Americans don’t know anything about Plymouth, it happens to be the city where the Pilgrims sailed from so we know more about it than you might guess.

  26. Travis’s favorite gin was Boodles, not Plymouth, and he liked it in a tall glass of ice, optionality with lime.

  27. Hey Cee Dee,
    Read about Travis’ penchant for Plymouth in “Darker Than Amber” pg 2. Maybe the Boodle bottle came later. Plymouth gin was Travis’ “..clean pure truth serum”. Enjoy! Both…

  28. When I was in the US Navy, we pulled into Plymouth for 10 days. While there, I did a tour of the Plymouth Gin distillery. We got to see the ingredients and were explained the history of the gin. Note, I had never tried gin before in my life and we were doing it as a group just to have something to do, plus we were told we would be giving a drink at the end of the tour(most of the ship did the tour lol). Well, we were given a gin and tonic with lime….I’ve been drinking Plymouth gin ever since. Since then, I’ve tried at least a dozen gins and none have compared to Plymouth gin. The smooth relaxing taste has had me ever since. Can’t recommend enough. So good, it made me a gin drinker.

  29. To clarify the Travis McGee issue of Plymouth vs. Boodles. The Travis of roughly the first half of the series drinks Plymouth. Then, inexplicably, he drinks Boodles. I drink both. Plymouth (in my book, the world’s best classic gin) is rather expensive in my part of the Midwest, so I reserve it for special treats (to myself). Boodles is about $10. cheaper and it’s my regular choice. It’s a no-nonsense London Dry, not nearly as subtle as Plymouth, but excellent with a dash of bitters (cardamom) and great in a G&T. By the way, when Winston Churchill was asked about the “perfect” martini, he said, “Plymouth gin and a bow to France.” (It was wartime and Noilly Prat was scarce.)

  30. Find Plymouth fairly bland and rather disappointing to sip. The taste is fresh, earthy as described and I get the oil as mentioned. But after that, nothing. May as well have had a sip of iced water. I do favour Bloom or Tanqueray no.10, the Tanqueray really does make the Plymouth seem bland.

  31. Absolutely the best Gimlet when done the hard way: 1-1/2 Plymouth and 1 fresh lime juice and 1 simple syrup shaken hard and strained. And non-gin drinkers love it.

  32. Absolutely the best Gimlet when done the hard way: 1-1/2 Plymouth and 1 fresh lime juice and 1 simple syrup shaken hard with ice and strained. And non-gin drinkers love it.

  33. I’m a follower and fan of Bombay Sapphire as one of all time greats. But Plymouth is just THE best gin. It’s class is just undeniable. Some say that Hendrick’s in now the best gin in the world, Tanqueray is a heavy wieght opponent with No.10 and there are many famous gins around the world… but I have to admit it – Plymouth is just untouchable. In terms of gin&tonic? It’s just pure pure class. No cheap showboating or one trick pony. Just pure class.

  34. My father was a Beefeater Martini drinker, so that was my reference; and I still think it’s a solid gin. But count me as a Plymouth fan, but with a twist.

    For several years, Plymouth (Coates) sold a 47% abv version in duty free outlets and I think it was the best one. I think it’s been discontinued because I can’t find many references to it at all anymore. They do make the Navy Strength, which I think is stronger than necessary and I find the 41.2% version to be a bit weak, which is why some above have critiqued the finish. Alcohol helps carry flavor and I think the lower abv hurts it. In any event, I’ve come to to a solution, which is that I started with a regular bottle of Plymouth’s and drank it down to about halfway. Then I bought a bottle of the Navy Strength and topped it up and gently mixed it. This creates a Plymouth gin at about 47-49% abv, which is just about perfect. I do wish that Plymouth would go back to making a 47% abv, or even something in the 43-45% range. Perfect for martinis, G&Ts, pink gins, and Negronis.

    I have to laugh reading the comments, because I had forgotten that Travis McGee drank Plymouth’s. I read the entire series years ago, and those comments brought back fond memories of those books.

  35. Regarding Travis McGee and Plymouth versus Boodles gin, Travis explains his dissatisfaction with Plymouth in Book #16, The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1974):

    “At drinking time I left Meyer at the wheel and went below and broke out the very last bottle of the Plymouth gin which had been bottled in the United Kingdom. All the others were bottled in the U.S. Gin People, it isn’t the same. It’s still a pretty good gin but it is not a superb, stingingly dry, and lovely gin. The sailor on the label no longer looks staunch and forthright , but merely hokey.

    There is something self-destructive about Western technology and distribution. Whenever any consumer object is so excellent that it attracts a devoted following, some of the slide rule and computer types come in on their twinkle toes and take over the store, and in a trice they figure out just how far they can cut quality and still increase the market penetration. Their reasoning is that it is idiotic to make and sell a hundred thousand units of something and make a profit of thirty cents a unit, when you can increase advertising, sell five million units, and make a nickel profit a unit. Thus the very good things of the world go down the drain, from honest turkey to honest eggs to honest tomatoes. And gin.”

    By the next book (The Empty Copper Sea, 1978), Travis was drinking Boodles.

  36. Try this gin in a negroni – it’s my favorite for the drink! The earthy flavors mix with the vermouth and Campari in a delightful way, adding a nice depth and smoothness.

  37. This gin possesses the qualities I would like to have as a person. It’s well balanced, suave, urbane and welcoming. I have been very promiscuous in my gin drinking over the decades, and yet Plymouth is the only gin I keep coming back to after ill fated flings with lesser alternatives.