Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Plymouth Gin Distillery

A place we had on our list of towns and cities to go and visit in the UK (but have not yet had the chance) was Plymouth. When we told people that we really wanted to go to Plymouth, they seemed to all reply with the same questions, Why? What is there to see? and our response was always “Isn’t it obvious? The Plymouth Gin Distillery”.  Before coming to the UK, Cara probably would not have been to bothered about visiting a gin distillery, but she’s recently became very fond of a gin and tonic. So drinking “G&T’s” at Plymouth sounded like a great idea. Aside from our own personal love for gin, it is also one of the most popular spirits in the UK, so visiting the home of the most popular gin going around, it felt like a very ‘british’ thing to do.

Plymouth distillery has been producing gin since 1793. It is the oldest distillery still operating in the UK. The distillery itself is even older. Built in 1431, it was originally a monastery until the site was sold to distilling company, Fox & Williamson in 1793, when they began producing gin. In the years to come, gin would grow rapidly in popularity, due to it’s low cost. At one point, gin was cheaper than beer. Plymouth led the market producing top quality gin and began exporting it all over europe and then the world. It’s clean and fresh taste was largely due to the distillers sourcing natural fresh water from nearby Dartmoor National park. At the start of the 1900’s, Plymouth received another boost to it’s popularity when it became the only brand name to be specified in the famous “Savoy Cocktail Book”. 23 gin cocktails were listed in the book. Today, Plymouth is one of the most awarded spirits in the world, winning several gold medals at the annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 

Plymouth’s standard strength, is 41.2% alcohol. This gin is said to have a more earthy flavours. It contains seven key botanicals, juniper, sweet orange, cardamon, angelica root, orris root and pure grain.   It’s described as having a soft and fruity taste with hints of sage and eucalyptus. Me personally, I find it hard to distinguish between different gins. But Plymouth Gin, certainly does have a clean and crisp finish which can only be found in the higher quality spirits.  

Today the distillery is complete with a restuarant and a cocktail bar stocking some of the best gins in the UK, as well as the full Plymouth range. After looking around the distillery, we decided to check out the bar and have a Plymouth gin cocktail. We could have ordered one of their signature creations, but we decided to go with a classic, and by far one of the most well know gin cocktails of all time is a “Tom Collins”.  This famous cocktail consists of Gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda water. It was invented in 1876 by the godfather of American mixology, Jerry Thomas. It’s origin stems back to a practical joke played on people in bars in New York and it soon spread to other bars across America. The joke was when you greeted someone in a bar, you would ask “Have you seen Tom Collins?” when the person replies, “I don’t know anyone under the name Tom Collins”, you would then say “Well Tom was talking about you in a bar around the corner”. This would then give the person a little bit of paranoia. It was a simple joke, but one which was often told in many bars. Once Jerry Thomas invented the cocktail, the joke became a funny way of ordering this classic gin drink.  The cocktail was not only popular due to the joke, it was a great refreshing drink. Jerry Thomas could have named this cocktail anything and it still would have been just as well known. The simple mix of gin, lemons and sugar gave you the perfect balance of something dry, sour and sweet. A great cocktail to drink in the summer. 

We had both eaten a massive lunch during and visit to Plymouth distillery, so when it was time to sit back and relax, we were glad to be drinking a refreshing “Tom Collins”. We had a great time visiting Plymouth Gin Distillery. It was definitely well worth the visit. The distillery has changed with the times and is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Plymouth. I know Plymouth is a popular gin in Australia, so once we return home, I’ll see this gin as a fond reminder of our time here.

“Tom Collins”

Built in a tall glass
45ml Plymouth Gin
15ml Sugar Syrup
30ml Lemon Juice
Topped up with Soda Water

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