AD – Plymouth Gin – The History of the Oldest Gin Distillery in the UK

Britain is most definitely in the grips of a Gin Craze – but it isn’t our first one!

Back in the late 17th Century, the Dutch drink known as genever became incredibly popular when William III expressed a fondness for it (yes, celebrity endorsements were a thing even then!)

I recently visited Plymouth with Future Inns UK to explore the city’s Mayflower history. When I heard the city was home to the oldest gin distillery in the UK I simply had to learn more!

Plymouth Gin – The Oldest Distillery in the UK

plymouth gin exterior

I must admit I’m not a big gin drinker. I was primarily interested in the distillery tour because of the distillery building itself. It’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in Plymouth and used to be part of a monastery. It was here that some of the Mayflower pilgrims reputedly had their last dinner before sailing off the the New World in 1620.

Plymouth Gin has a long and distinguished history. The distillery itself dates back to at least 1793, but there’s evidence to suggest gin was distilled on site before that date. Either way, Plymouth Gin went on to play a massive role in the history of this historic maritime city – and it still does!

Plymouth Gin – The Tour

The tour starts in the part of the distillery where the gin is distilled. Our lovely tour guide told us all about the process, including the fact Plymouth Gin is still made in 155 year old copper still.

I learnt so many facts about Plymouth Gin while on the tour. It truly is an historic brand.

In 1896 – in a book called Stuart’s Fancy Drinks and How To Mix Themthe first ever recipe for a Dry Martini specified Plymouth Gin. Also, in the iconic Savoy Book of Cocktails all 23 of the gin-based cocktails list Plymouth Gin as an ingredient. How many other alcohol brands can say that?!

Plymouth Gin – Tasting

We then moved on to the tasting session. Gin will never be my number one choice of drink, but it was so interesting learning about all the different ingredients that go into it.

We even got to try the notorious navy strength gin. At 57% proof, it really packs a punch! It was distilled to that strength so that if there was a spillage aboard a navy ship (the Royal Navy loved their gin) it wouldn’t spoil the gunpowder.

I also discovered Plymouth Gin make more than just straight gin. There is Fruit Punch, which is very similar to Pimms. And if you’re after a seasonal drink for winter then they make sloe gin too. Perfect for your hip flask!

Plymouth Gin – After The Tour

After your tour you can head upstairs to the Refectory Bar.

The distillery tour lasts 40 minutes and costs £12.50, and as part of that you get a voucher for a free gin and tonic. And you get to drink it in a late medieval hall with a timber roof dating from 1431. Simply mindblowing!

plymouth gin refectory bar

I really enjoyed my tour of Plymouth Gin Distillery – and I’m not even a big gin drinker! Even if you’re not interested in the drink, the history of the building and the business make it a ‘must visit’ when you are in Plymouth.

Many thanks to Future Inns UK, Visit Plymouth and Plymouth Gin for kindly arranging a free tour for me.

Pinterest Cover Plymouth Gin

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