A beacon for explorers and pioneers, the port of Plymouth has been shaped by the sea and defined by its geography. It’s also the place Plymouth Gin was born.
Plymouth’s safe natural harbour not only brought merchants from around the world to trade, but also made it the perfect home for the British Royal Navy.
Traders brought with them the seven exotic botanicals that provide the distinctive aromas and flavours our gin is so famous for.
The stark beauty of Dartmoor is key to our story. Its peaty soil and granite rock form nature’s best filtration system, producing the soft, pure water we first used to distil our gin.
It’s the water we used from Dartmoor that meant we were the first gin bottled in clear glass. We’ve never had anything to hide.
From the vast harbour, to the wild and wonderful Dartmoor national park, the natural resources that surround Plymouth are vital to our gin.
Plymouth has always been synonymous with adventure and discovery. In fact it was the last port of call for the Pilgrim Fathers before their epic voyage to the New World. To celebrate their feat, we depict their ship, the Mayflower, on every one of our bottles.
It was also home to Sir Francis Drake. Many believe his finest hour was captaining a complete circumnavigation of the globe in a single expedition, but we have a slightly different opinion. We think it was when, as mayor of Plymouth, he ordered the water of Dartmoor be channelled down to the city, providing us with easy access to the water so crucial to our gin.
Plymouth Gin is a true original. Since 1793 its unique recipe of botanicals has been made to the highest standards in the same distillery in the very heart of the historical city of Plymouth, on England’s South West coast. It’s these factors that have resulted in our particularly English gin becoming as famous and well travelled as those who first tasted it.Discover more about Plymouth Gin Original
Our home since 1793 and a monastery before that, the historical Black Friars distillery is the oldest working gin distillery in England.
We’re very fond of our distillery home, parts of which date back to the 1400s. Back then it was a monastery used by the Black Friars, who were famous for offering alcoholic remedies for a variety of ills. They even thought juniper could ward off the plague. To honour these monks we place one on each bottle we produce. It’s said that when the friar’s head pops above the gin and he can breathe again, then it’s time to buy another bottle.
Each bottle of Plymouth Gin we make comes from just one place – the Still Room in the Black Friars Distillery.Discover The Black Friars Distillery
Every drop of Plymouth Gin we make comes from just one Victorian copper still. Every day the still is used, it is hand loaded with the seven hand selected botanicals, the manhole closed and the steam valve opened.
Much like a kettle, our still has a steam coil in the bottom of it. The steam valve is carefully opened by hand, gently heating the combination of water, grain natural spirit and our seven natural botanicals.
As they’re heated in the still, the alcohol and essential oils turn to vapour and rise up the swan neck and through into the condenser column, where they’re cooled back into a liquid.
The middle cut is the most important part of the distillation. The flavours from the seven botanicals and their essential oils are released over many hours, and need to be collected at just the right time to ensure it’s Plymouth Gin. Our Master Distiller is responsible for the timing of this, which even today is done by smelling, or nosing, the distillate.
The spirit safe is where our Master Distiller and his distilling team, who have over a quarter of century of experience, can nose the distillate at any time, and decide when it’s time to make the all-important middle cut. Now all that’s left to do is add some water to achieve the required strength.
From the building’s origins to our Victorian copper still and our modern day bar, a tour around the Black Friars Distillery is not something you’ll soon forget.Discover The Black Friars Distillery
From a weather beaten English port to the four corners of the globe, the journey of Plymouth Gin is synonymous with the British Royal Navy, its sailors and ships.
The Pink Gin was not born in a bar - it was the men of the British Royal Navy who came up with this classic cocktail. During the 1800s sailors used Angostura bitters to help them settle their stomachs while at sea. To make the bitters palatable they would mix them with their daily rations of Plymouth Gin, turning it pink. Understandably fond of their concoction, it wasn’t long before sailors took it ashore, and by the 20th century it was famous the world over.Discover how to Mix A Pink Gin
The heritage of the Gimlet lies firmly with the men of the British Royal Navy. Just like the Pink Gin, it is difficult to pinpoint its precise birth, but we do know what led to its creation - scurvy. Caused by a lack of vitamin C while at sea for months at a time, the British Royal Navy provided all men with lime cordial rations from 1876 to combat it. The sailors, never ones to miss an opportunity at mixing their drinks, combined it with their daily rations of Plymouth Gin, and the Gimlet was born.Discover how to Mix A Gimlet
Plymouth’s location not only gave us access to the ingredients we use, it also provided us with our most important early customer - the British Royal Navy.
During the Napoleonic Wars, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson ordered barrels of Plymouth Gin for his officers. Because cannons were vital for safety, it was feared that leaks could make gunpowder wet and impossible to light. That’s why our founder, Thomas Coates, introduced Navy Strength, a gin strong enough to pass the British Royal Navy’s “proof” test. This involved pouring the spirit onto gunpowder. If the powder still burned, it indicated that there was sufficient alcohol - or proof – and the gin was allowed on board.
Plymouth Gin is not just the choice for seafaring pioneers. Since the beginning of the 20th century it’s also been the choice of bartenders around the globe.
Harry Craddock might not be a name you know, but for bartenders and us, his place in history is assured. While working as a bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar, he wrote the first edition of the iconic Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. A fan of Plymouth Gin, he included it in 26 recipes in this bible of mixology, by far the most referenced gin and the second most named spirit. A man with great taste it would seem.
With a heritage very firmly set on the polished surfaces of the world’s greatest bars rather than on the decks of the British Royal Navy, the Marguerite is an early version of one of the world’s most famous cocktails, the Dry Martini.
While it may be one of the world’s most celebrated drinks, it also happens to be very controversial. The first recorded mention of a Martini was in 1888. Like all recipes of its type from that period, it was very different to the Dry Martini we know today. This was down to the inclusion of sweet or highly flavoured ingredients. It was not until 1904 and the Marguerite, a recipe that uses Plymouth Gin, French dry vermouth and a dash of orange bitters, that we see a drink that fits the description of a modern Dry Martini.
From the Seven Seas to bars around the world, Plymouth Gin has had its share of adventures over the last 200 years. We know the future will be no different and we can’t wait.
The making of fruit gins has a long tradition in the areas surrounding our West Country home, with sloe gin especially popular. In fact it’s been made for so long that it has a history almost as long as our own. Originally made by soaking the fruit of the blackthorn bush, sloe berries, in gin and adding sugar, our version is based on a classic 1883 recipe and is an essential part of numerous classic cocktails, including the Sloe Gin Fizz.Discover more about Plymouth Sloe Gin
A new drink inspired by a very old custom, the Pennant takes its name from an old naval flag, the Gin Pennant. Tradition has it that a ship in port would raise this flag to invite officers from other nearby vessels to come aboard for a drink. It’s a simple philosophy of friendship and sharing stories, but one we think should be shared with the world.Discover how to Mix a pennant