Plymouth Gin is a great choice for anyone: Beginners to the category will appreciate that it’s softer than London Drys, with less obvious piney notes, while longtime fans will find that its beautifully balanced botanicals make a world-class Martini or G&T.
Classification Plymouth gin
Company Pernod Ricard
Distillery Plymouth, also known as Black Friars Distillery (Plymouth, England)
Still Type copper pot
Proof 82.4 (41.2% ABV)
Awards Double Gold, 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
It’s softer than a London Dry gin, with a more gentle juniper influence, while still retaining a classic old-school flavor.
A great introduction for the gin-curious who may be turned off by the piney flavor of bottles like Tanqueray
Its beautifully balanced botanicals make a world-class Martini.
Mixers need to be chosen carefully, lest its more muted flavors get overwhelmed in a cocktail.
Color: Clear and slightly viscous
Nose: Juniper dominates, but it doesn’t give off that pine tree-in-the-woods scent. The sweetness is balanced out by dry coriander and cardamom notes.
Palate: A creamy sweetness that isn’t cloying, with juniper and vanilla evolving into a light lemony flavor
Finish: Sweet juniper, tart citrus, and dry coriander all blend for a finish that lingers lengthily.
When people say they don’t like gin, they’re usually referring to a specific kind of gin: a piney, juniper-heavy London Dry like Tanqueray or Junipero. It’s an acquired taste that, for many, is simply never acquired. That’s where Plymouth comes in. It’s still juniper-dominant, unlike the “New Western Dry'' gins like Hendrick’s or New Amsterdam, which can tread perilously close to flavored-vodka territory. But it’s softer and mellower than many London Dry expressions, with a more balanced botanical profile that makes it an ideal starter gin for newcomers to the category. Its long history and beautiful flavor also make Plymouth the gin of choice for many connoisseurs, even if its mass market appeal has waxed and waned over the decades.
The big test of a gin, of course, is not how it tastes sipped on its own, although Plymouth isn’t half bad if that’s your thing. What’s important is how it fares in the two definitive gin cocktails: a Gin & Tonic and a Martini. For G&Ts, a lighter-bodied tonic will complement the bottle’s gentle flavors without overwhelming them. But simply put, Plymouth makes one of the world’s great Dry Martinis, perhaps even the best. Mellow and elegant, all it needs is a touch of dry vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, and a twist of lemon peel to achieve perfection. It also makes a terrific Gimlet or Pink Gin.
Questionable corporate management over a period of decades has left Plymouth with something of a cult brand’s reputation; current owner Pernod Ricard is so flummoxed by the brand that it shunted off the product’s marketing to a subsidiary in the States. But real gin fans know Plymouth’s lofty standing in the pantheon, and you should, too.
Plymouth Gin wasn’t always just a brand—it was its own style of gin, with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) mandating that the spirit could only be made in Plymouth, England. The European Union changed its rules for PGI-protected spirits, however, and asked Plymouth to submit its proprietary (and secret) recipe. Rather than divulge it, parent company Pernod Ricard decided to let the PGI lapse in 2014. Fortunately, Plymouth hasn’t changed its style, and it is still made at the same distillery and former monastery where it’s been crafted since 1793.