Welcome to Plymouth, England
The coastal city about three hours southwest of London has a few claims to fame: it's the original home of the Royal Navy, it's where the Mayflower set sail, and it's home to the Plymouth Gin Distillery, located just a stone’s throw away from the harbor since 1793.
The seven botanicals of Plymouth Gin
Each brand of gin differs based on its particular blend of botanicals (and their varying origins). Plymouth Gin contains seven botanicals: juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica root, cardamom pods, and orris root. Because of the amount of distinctly rooty ingredients, Plymouth Gin tastes earthier than, say, Beefeater.
Water, water, everywhere
After the botanicals and grain alcohol come gin’s final ingredient: water. Plymouth Gin sources from the beautiful Dartmoor reservoirs, which run through peat over granite (no limestone), producing very soft water—and super-smooth gin.
The Plymouth Still, 155 years young
Into the 7000 liter still goes a 96% alcohol grain spirit and the botanicals, plus Dartmoor water. After the still turns on and begins to boil, the gin turns into vapor and rises up up and away into the swan neck, then floats down into the condenser (on the left). During its cooling time, the gin returns to liquid form.
Trickles in the spirit safes mean it’s testing time
Plymouth Gin goes through three runs to ensure desired flavor and consistency. Each run strips out oil and dirtiness, distilling to a clean yet strong gin—but the timing is a delicate matter. The product of each still is split between four vats; in the end, each final batch of gin comes from four rounds of production. The distillers then reduce the gin to 41.2% alcohol by adding Dartmoor water, and bottle it up.
Sean Harrison, Plymouth Gin Head Distiller
Sean is in charge of verifying consistency through taste and timing (all trade secrets, of course). Here Sean’s fishing out water for...
The Pink Gin
One of the Royal Navy’s creations, with just three ingredients: Plymouth Gin, fresh water, and three or four drops of Angostura bitters. The least pink-tasting drink ever—very clean and strong.
Small staff, large results
Only three people work here— it only takes one person to make 5000 liters. The rest of their combined manpower goes into sales, marketing, distillery tours, etc.
Directly above the distillery sits a gorgeous bar that was a monks’ refectory room in the 1400s. Come here after the distillery tour to have a drink and enjoy the historic artifacts lining the walls.
Fresh cucumber muddled with sugar, doused in Plymouth Gin and combined with apple and lemon juice. A super-refreshing drink after a whole lotta distillery learning.