Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Plymouth Gin has a 300-year-old history and is one of the oldest gin brands in the world. It’s the only gin that can only be distilled in Plymouth, England, and no other place legally.
It is distilled in the same way that London dry gin is made, but because it’s quite fond of its root ingredients, this gin is slightly less dry and more earthy with hints of almonds. The Plymouth original has an ABV of 41.2 percent.
An Introduction To Gin Plymouth
The history of Plymouth Gin can be dated as early as 1793, at the Black Friars Distillery (which used to be a monastery) in Plymouth, England. In fact, it is the only remaining gin distillery in all of Plymouth.
Back in the 1800s, though, foreign distillers began making their own Plymouth gin. Coates and Co., the distilling business handling Plymouth, took control and intervened — they established a set of legalities that Plymouth Gin should stay home and be made in the location of Plymouth City only.
And because the distillery’s location is so close to the place of the Royal William Victualling Yard, a major victualling depot of the Royal Navy, it became extremely popular amongst the Navy that the brand created a Navy Strength version for this very reason.
How It’s Made
Plymouth Gin is distilled the same way that London dry gin is made by distilling neutral grain spirits. You will notice that the liquor taste is earthy and less juniper-forward, thanks to a higher than usual proportion of root ingredients in the distillation process.
It also lists seven botanicals, including juniper, coriander, sweet orange, cardamom, angelica root, and orris root, although the exact recipe remains a guarded secret.
No bitter botanicals are also present in the gin’s flavor profile, and we can detect almonds in the nose. Fresh water from Dartmoor gives it an exceptionally clean taste.
The Sloe version uses the base of the Plymouth but adds sloe berries, otherwise known as blackthorn . When cooked, these berries are plum-like but may be too tart and dry on your palate when eaten raw. This plum gin also borrows more fruity flavors from cherries.
The Navy Strength version has a whopping 57 percent ABV. We imagine that the original would taste like this on the palate if this weren’t diluted. This variant is out of control with extremely strong juniper and citrus flavors.
Legend says that for almost two centuries, not one Royal Navy ship left the port without it.
The original Plymouth is made using the original recipe from the past 300 years, and it’s a good base for plenty of different drinks. It has also received plenty of positive reviews and medals in international spirits competitions.
Common Plymouth Gin Prices
|Plymouth Sloe Gin||750ml||52||$36.99 – $38.99|
|Plymouth Navy Strength Gin||750ml||114||$34.99 – $37.99|
|Plymouth Original Gin||750ml||82.4||$26.99 – $34.99|
Compared to Other Gin Alternatives Price
Hendrick’s Gin’s unique distillation method is unlike other brands, but if you’re looking for a reason to experience the traditional gin, we strongly recommend Plymouth Gin. Hendrick’s has great smoothness and a floral tone, which at times gets snubbed by gin drinkers and purists. One bottle of Hendrick’s starts at around $28, which is at par with Plymouth’s prices.
Tanqueray, No. Ten
The Tanqueray No. Ten embraces modernity. Although juniper is still present in the final product, your nose and palate will notice that a lot of aromatic flowers and fresh citrus flavors take center stage in this liquor. Both brands have similar smoothness in terms of finish. Prices start at about $36 per one bottle in stores, which is okay for its value.
The cheapest product out of the brands with prices starting at just roughly $9 in stores, Seagram’s, is no match against Plymouth. It’s not to say that Seagram’s is bad quality, though — it just lacks the nuances and smoothness in taste present in Plymouth’s (like orris, coriander, and cardamom) because a lot of it is mainly juniper.
You can expect smoothness in both your nose and palate with a bottle of the Bombay Sapphire. Bombay Sapphire is for those who prefer subtle flavors in their alcohol as it uses a unique vapor infusion process. A bottle of blue starts at about $16 in price, which we believe is the best for its taste and value and reasonably cheaper in prices than Plymouth. Bombay is also great mixed into martinis.
Popular Plymouth Gin-Based Cocktails
The fact is, Plymouth Gin is arguably the best gin to mix into a martini. The earliest recorded dry martini in time indicated this brand as its mixer.
Because of the Plymouth Gin’s earthy tones, plenty of mixers work well with it. Here are two recipes you can make at home:
The King & It
Sample the cocktail fit for a King (even though you’re not part of the Royal Family!). It’s made using the spirit of a limited edition Plymouth variant.
- 1 ounce Plymouth Mr. King’s 1842 Recipe
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes of orange bitters
- Lemon twist
- Fresh ice
Pour all ingredients into a lowball glass with ice and blend gently with a bar spoon. Garnish with the fruit twist.
The Gimlet is a classic drink created by the British Navy in the 1800s. It uses simple ingredients you’ll probably find in your pantry.
- 5 ounces Plymouth Gin
- 2 ounces lime juice
- 1 part simple syrup
- Lime wheel
- Fresh ice
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the alcohol, two ounces of lime juice, and simple syrup. Blend well and strain into a lowball glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Can you drink gin Plymouth straight?
Yes. Most liquor experts or gin drinkers would tell you that this spirit is best enjoyed when mixed into cocktails. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t drink Plymouth Gin straight. You can drink it any way you want to. And to truly enjoy it, it must be of good quality.
What goes best with Plymouth gin?
We find that tonic water goes best with Plymouth Gin. It also pairs well with lemon or lime juice. It also doesn’t shy away from pairing well with olive brine to make dirty martinis.
Plymouth Gin continues to be a fan favorite in the world at the present time. And although it uses a traditional production process, it makes up for it with its one-of-a-kind flavor profile.
It may not be the cheapest when it comes to price, but if the Royal Navy gives it favorable reviews, it’s good enough for us!