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Having lived in Plymouth all my life - I would be a fool not to of tried this once or twice in my life!!
This product is becoming a more and more recognised product in my opinion.
History of Plymouth Gin -
Black Friars Distillery is the founder place for Plymouth gin since 1793! This is a very special place in Plymouth and can be found around the cobbled streets of the Barbican. It's quite remarkable that it is the only style of gin that is, by European Law the only place it is allowed to be made! This makes it even more unique and exciting to try!
Actual Gin -
the Gin itself is obviously only made in Plymouth, and the orginial version of the drink has a volume of 41.2%, furthermore the navy version of this drink is 57%!! So not for those of you who want a "light" drinking evening! Having said this, the drink possesses a remarkably unique sweet taste that defines it from other drinks. The reason behind this higher percent of alcohol of 57% was in case of a gunpowder explosion back hundreds of years ago! It had to be this strength in case of the spirit spilling and possible gunpowder ignition!! I am commenting solely on the Plymouth Original Gin as it the best in my opnionion, but there is also the Fruit Cup which is also very good. The sweetness is, as said previously very distinctive - so preferably i do not have the drink with lemonade - instead have soda or diet tonic with a slight squeeze of lime - perfect! It really is to die for on a summers day!
Overall Plymouth Gin is a very unique, sweet and mind captivating taste - full of flavour and you will always enjoy this drink - especially in the summer with a twist of lime!
The Plymouth gin distillery is located in an old Monastery that was built in 1431 by Black Friars. The distillery is one the oldest of its kind with records of alcohol production dating back to 1697, but it was 1793 when the distilling business for Plymouth gin was started.
Gin originated in (properly - it is believed that Juniper based spirits go back the the 12th century but were used for medicinal purposes) Holland in the 17th century and was discovered by the English when fighting alongside the Dutch in war. The Dutch used to do shots before going into battle and this is where the term "Dutch courage" originates from.
The idea of Gin was then brought back to England and due to heavy import taxes and high beer prices people started to make gin themselves, often in bathtubs and whatever else was available. By 1740 gin was out producing beer six times over so the government introduced the gin act which caused rioting so had to abolish it then reinstated it in 1751. The gin act at the time stated that if you could see the persons face who was selling the gin a tax had to be imposed. This was overcome by one particular chap who made a hole in his wall through which he could pass the gin and receive payment. He painted a picture of a Tom Cat on the wall and this is where the name "Tom Gin" came from. Tom gin is sweeter than gin is today but a very good gin liqueur called Haymans 1820 tastes very similar. Incidentally the cocktail called "Tom Collins" is made with Tom gin (a Tom Collins is a variation of a drink invented in London called the "John Collins" which is made with vodka).
Although London Gin can be distilled anywhere in the world Plymouth Gin can only be distilled in Plymouth.
Plymouth have several other gins including Damson gin, Sloe gin and Navy strength gin. Navy strength gin is 57% and this is because only alcohol 57% or stronger can be spilt on gunpowder for it still to fire.
--Plymouth Gin Botanicals--
Juniper berries from Italy and the former Yugoslavia, lemon and orange peel from Spain, orris root from Italy, angelica root from all over Europe, cardamom pods from the Far East and Coriander seeds from Russia, Eastern Europe and Morocco.
Each of these botanicals gives the gin its own subtleties and flavours:
Juniper berries - The main ingredient in all standard gins.
Lemon peel - Enhances the dryness of the gin whilst adding a crisp and refreshing nose and flavour.
Orange peel - Uses oranges with a sweet rind to add a sweetness to the gin.
Orris root - The root of the Iris plant adds an earthy note and length to the nose.
Angelica root - Also adds an earthy note but also makes the gin a little dryer.
Cardamom pods - Add a warm, aromatic spice.
Coriander - The coriander enhances the citrus flavours of the lemon and orange whilst adding a little peppery note.
The colour of Plymouth gin, as with most, is clear.
When nosing the spirit I can smell initially the fruitiness of the Juniper, lemon and orange. The second smell to come through is the spicyness of the coriander and it finishes on a subtle earthy smell.
The overall smell is very rounded and well balanced. It is less predominantly fruity than other gins.
A good tip for when nosing drinks is to smell the back of your hand when changing between drinks. This action cleanses the palette ensuring that there is little residual smell from the previous spirit or otherwise in your nose.
Plymouth gin has a very long finish. This is part of the reason why many people find it difficult to drink gin. Vodka has a very short finish which means that the flavour lingers on the tongue for a very small amount of time but the flavour of gin on the other hand tends to stay with you for a good while longer.
Plymouth gin is also very creamy. When swilling around the mouth I notice that the gin is smooth and the flavour doesn't change with time.
If you want to properly taste the gin the best way to do so is to pour 1 part gin to 1 part of chilled mineral water and all of the individual flavours of the botanicals will be released.
I always find that Plymouth gin tastes like Plymouth gin. It is remarkably well balanced and smooth. It works perfectly as sipping gin and also as a mixing gin.
2 Measures of Plymouth Gin
Dry Vermouth (Such as Noilly Prat)
Stir in a shaker with lots of ice. Very little Vermouth provides a dry Martini whereas extra makes the Martini wet. Garnish with an olive, some lemon or lime rind, a pickled onion or anything else you fancy...
1 measure gin
1 measure Campari
1 measure Sweet Vermouth
Build in a Whisky tumbler with plenty of ice and garnish with the rind of an orange.
2 Measures Plymouth gin
1 Measure Sauvignon Blanc
½ Measure of Freshly squeezed Lemon juice
Dash Apple Juice
½ an apple
Dash of Gomme syrup
Muddle the grapes with the apple and sugar. Add the gin, lemon juice and sauvignon blanc. Shake and double strain into a Collins glass. Top up with apple (if needs be) and garnish with a small bunch of grapes of some sort of crazy apple shape...
-Basil Faulty (This is one of my own...)
2 measures Plymouth Gin
8 basil leaves
½ measure lemon juice
½ measure Xante (Pear liqueur)
Dash Angostura bitters
4 measures pineapple juice
Gomme sugar syrup to taste
Shake all ingredients in a boston shaker with ice. Serve on cubed ice in a Tom Collins glass and garnish with a Basil leaf float.
Or why not just have a gin and tonic!
I think that Plymouth gin is a beautifully balanced gin that works well in many different cocktails, as a sipping drink or as a gin and tonic. In a gin and tonic I would serve it with either a good wedge of lemon or a couple of wedges of fresh lime and ideally a bottle of fever tree tonic water.
It's not my favourite of all gins but certainly better than the likes of Bombay Sapphire, Gordons, Beefeater , Seagrams and the like. I'd have it at par with Blackwoods and Tanqueray but I just adore Martin Millers gin and Hendricks gin.
Overall I think it's a 4/5 because I can't fault it but it just doesn't have that something special.
A bottle of Plymouth gin will set you back about £10.98 in Asda.
If you want to know more about Plymouth gin just check out the website, Plymouthgin.com, or if you want some cocktail suggestions or a bartender for the night just drop me a message!
For those who might wonder what the stuff actually tastes like, before you part with your well earned dosh, I will try and help. If you did a blind taste test, as boyfriend and I did one Christmas morning, between Plymouth, Bombay Sapphire and Gordons you would find that Plymouth has a richer, slightly sweeter taste than the other two. It tastes like an old drink, indeed one elderly friend remarked that it tasted like gin used to taste. It has a herbal quality, which I guess is down to the bits and pieces they put in there. Bombay Sapphire is infinately drier and sharper than Plymouth, and Gordon's is quite dull in comparison to the other two! Plymouth gin needs very little tonic to appreciate the full flavour, but it makes an excellent refreshing drink as an alternative to Pimms and lemonade on a hot summers day. One small criticism is that some places still do not stock it, even though it is enjoying something of a mini-revival. Try Victoria Wine, Tesco and Sainsbury's as they seem to be most on the ball.
When I was very young, say around 1950, there was never any ‘drink’ in the house except at Christmas time. For those of you much too young to remember or to be around, the immediate post-war years were times of relative hardship for many people, with rationing of many commodities. There were very few luxuries and those that were around were expensive. Spirits were then very much classified as a 'luxury' and I have no doubt that many DooYooers will be breathing a big sigh of relief that they were born much later and did not have to experience such austere times. I actually recall seeing a newspaper advertisement for Gordon’s Gin in 1952, giving the price at a little over One Pound Ten Shillings a bottle (£1.50 for the finacially 'immature'), and that was at a time when the normal working wage was about £7 a week........ Thus, 'DRINK' (!!) in general was very much a luxury item. I also recall that there was no television in South Wales very much before the Coronation in 1953 and there were thus no ‘Christmas Specials’ to look forward to, so that 'good family conversation' (and many blazing rows !) was very much the vogue. When Aunts and Uncles were in for evenings of ‘crack’ at around Christmas time, then I recall there was always a bottle of ‘Plymouth Gin’ in to drink and assist in the celebrations (and the good ole' rows/slanging matches and eventual making-ups). So why was it ‘Plymouth Gin’ ? Well, Gordon’s Gin was described by my dear Auntie Hannah as “Lounge-lizard’s Gin”, and having come across a number of 'lounge lizards' in her time, she was an expert in judging such creatures. Auntie Hannah was my father's eldest sister (of 3). ‘Plymouth Gin’ on the other hand, is described as "the Seafarer’s Gin", and since my father and
his father before him, and my mother’s two brothers, were all seafarers, it was the Gin of choice in the Gee Sr. Family household at Christmas time. Plymouth Gin is distilled by Coates & Co at what is described as the "oldest Gin Distillery in Britain", built in 1793 at the former Black Friars Priory in Plymouth. According to the advertising blurb, it is made "with water from Dartmoor, in its original hand-crafted copper pot stills and ... won a Gold Medal in the 1884 Health Exhibition". It is sold with a strange alcoholic strength of 41.2% Alcohol by Volume (41.2%Vol) which is described as "... strength which holds all our seven botanicals perfectly." I know that this strength may sound a strange figure, but there is an explanation for this. Up until the 1970’s, the alcoholic strength was always quoted as ‘degrees proof’, so that the ‘normal’ strength of whisky was 70 degrees proof (equivalent to 40% Vol.), and Vodka was 65.5 degrees proof. 100 degrees proof spirit was said to be that strength of spirit which, if mixed with gunpowder and burned off, will leave the gunpowder just sufficiently dry to ignite afterwards. That was the extent of the knowledge of methods of food and drink analysis in the 18th century when spirituous beverages were first categorised and taxed according to strength. Thus, Plymouth Gin was sold at '75 degrees proof', compared with most other retail gins of that time which were 70 degrees proof (40% Vol.). This was before they adulterated Gordon’s Gin (and others) with extra water to pull it down to the equivalent of 65.5 degrees proof (37.5% Vol.) and attract a 'lower duty' (and thus 'extra profit' for the Capitalist producers ....... grrrrrrr ....). Plymouth Gin seemed to disappear from the market place for a number of years and it was only about 3 years’ ago th
at I saw it on sale and the dark recesses at the back of my brain glowed into action, triggering the memory cells. Naturally I bought a bottle, and took it as a gift (with a bottle of Noilly Prat Vermouth) when visiting the old rascal, my Auntie Hannah. Then in her late 80’s, and in a residential home, she was delighted to see it again after so many years, and a large ‘Gin & it’ was soon in my hand whilst she described some of the antics she had ‘got up to’ in the 1940’s. For those of you like me, - graduates of the excesses of the 1960’s and beyond, who think they have partied in their lives, our parents and sometimes grandparents could have run rings around us with what many of them got up to in the 1940’s and before. I should say that my Auntie Hannah kept her feminine allure (and a string of ‘admirers’) until her early 80's so well that, when Heather and I were married in 1974, my best man ("Big Al") who was the same age as me (28), tried to ‘get off’ with my Auntie Hannah, who was then a ‘mature lady’ in her mid 60’s. “ My, but could your Auntie put those G&T’s away”, Al confided with me later, “I really thought I would be in there”. She also confided in me that she was “... sorry to disappoint your friend, but I doubt if he could have done very much for me... ”(!!!). So there was obviously at least some truth in the stories that went around the family circle after that wedding. Anyway, Plymouth Gin is very well-established and has that 'little extra' in alcoholic strength. Unfortunately you have to pay a premium price for this over my favourite gin, Gordon’s, of about £3 a bottle. The flavour is subtly different from Gordon’s Gin, somewhat ‘lighter’ and ‘drier’. Thus it makes a very keen constituent of
8216;Gin and it’ as my Auntie called the concoction with dry vermouth – she was especially fond of ‘Noilly Prat’, rather than the usual ‘Martini’. Thus, it is not surprising that I do not find it quite as good in a G&T as Gordon’s, and since I do not drink ‘Gin & it’ as often as G&T (and Heather only drinks Gin with Tonic or orange juice), we probably use about 5 bottles of Gordon’s Gin to each bottle of Plymouth. But whenever I drink ‘Plymouth & it’, I think of my Auntie Hannah and wonder....... ......... "Was I born too early, or too late (or at just the right time ?" And I hum to myself one of the verses of the Grande Olde Welsh Hymn, "Kosher Bailey" : "I did have an Auntie Hannah Who did play the Grand Johannah She did also play the fiddle ! (Up the side and down the middle)". © Sidneygee 2002
Made by Coates & Co (Plymouth). 41.2% Vol strength. Unlike London gin, which can be made anywhere, Plymouth gin can only be distilled within the ancient walls of Plymouth. Its distinctive taste is created by avoiding too much juniper or bitter botanicals, and using the crystal clear waters from the nearby granite hills of Dartmoor.