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Plymouth Gin

Clear glass bottle with a round blue and bronze label

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While I was browsing for new cocktail recipes, I kept seeing Plymouth Gin mentioned everywhere. It was recommended by a bunch of websites and even a few bartenders preferred in their cocktail books. So I was eager to see what makes Plymouth so well regarded.

One reason is its longevity. Black Friar Distillery has distilled Plymouth Gin for hundreds of years and is England’s oldest distillery operating in it’s original location. They converted an old monastery into the distillery in 1793, and it’s now the only surviving distillery in the city of Plymouth, England. However, ownership has changed hands many times over the years and Pernod Ricard are the current owners and distributors.

The distillery location is also a significant reason Plymouth is considered it’s own category of gin. Legally, only gins distilled in Plymouth are able to use the name and it’s the only gin in the UK given Protected Geographical Indication from the EU. But this credential ended recently after Pernod Ricard decided not to renew.

The flavor also differentiates Plymouth from other English gins. Despite being distilled similarly to another well known English gin style, London dry, Plymouth has more citrus and softer juniper flavor from a combination of seven botanicals: juniper berries, coriander seed, orange peels, lemon peels, angelica root, green cardamom and orris root.

Bottle Specs

❖ Spirit: Plymouth Gin

Distillery: Black Friars Distillery 

❖ ABV: 41.2%

❖ Moderate

Tasting Notes

My Tasting Notes

Color: Clear

❖ Nose: heavy citrus at first, then the juniper and cardamom with at slight earthy undertone

Taste: surprisingly sweet with strong citrus notes, viscous, juniper and the similar earth undertone from the nose.

Finish: long with a pleasant warmth, licorice

Clear Liquid in a glencarin glass

Tasting Notes from Plymouth for reference

❖ Nose: Rich, fresh aroma of juniper, followed by notes of coriander and cardamom

Taste: Extremely smooth, creamy and full bodied, with a slight sweetness

Finish: Elegant, long, fresh and aromatic


Clear liquid in a martini glass with a lemon twist hanging off the edge of the rim


1 Dash Orange Bitters

1 oz Dry Vermouth

2 oz Gin

❖ Stir all the ingredients with ice

❖ Strain into a coupe, Nick and Nora glass or martini glass

❖ express lemon twist over the drink and set on the edge of glass for garnish

Since every mention of Plymouth Gin includes something about how great it works in a martini, I was eager to try it for myself. I used the recipe from Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan (of Death and Company), and was really excited since I already had the vermouth they recommended (Dolan dry Vermouth). In fact, the only thing i was missing was the exact orange bitters (I used just Angostura, and they use a house blend of equal parts Fee brothers, Angostura and Regans).

 I was actually surprised by how much i enjoyed this martini. I was skeptical of the 2:1 ratio but Plymouth balanced perfectly with the vermouth. Usually I use a higher gin ratio because I didn’t think I liked vermouth, but maybe the other gins were the issue.  The sweetness of Plymouth really came through with the bright citrus and botanical flavor. The dash of bitters also added some nice depth to the citrus notes.

Bottom Line


Plymouth Gin really lives up to the hype and I think it’s the most well-rounded gin I’ve tried so far. The mixture of botanicals give Plymouth some pleasant sweetness, while still keeping the typical juniper and citrus notes. I equally enjoyed it in a martini as well on the rocks.

And, the price means you can really use Plymouth for whatever you want. I’m able to find it for about $30 in my area so I don’t feel too bad about using it in cocktails. Although there are some cheaper gins that also make great cocktails, Plymouth’s versatility makes it stand out.

Even though Plymouth is now owned by a big company, I still enjoyed learning about the humble beginnings of the distillery and English gin. Hopefully I can visit the distillery some day, and I definitely want to try the Plymouth Navy Strength. I applaud Plymouth for having a visible link to a alcoholism awareness website Drinkaware. I don’t think I’ve seen it on any other corporate website so far.

As always, drink responsibly.

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