|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
|Country of origin||England|
|Alcohol by volume||41.2%|
|Proof||72 (U.S. 83)|
Plymouth Gin is a Protected Geographical Indication that pertains to any gin distilled in Plymouth, England. Today, there is but one brand, Plymouth, which is produced by the Black Friars Distillery. The Black Friars Distillery is the only remaining gin distillery in Plymouth, in what was once a Dominican Order monastery built in 1431, and opens onto what is now Southside Street. It has been in operation since 1793.  The established distilling business of Fox & Williamson began the distilling of the Plymouth brand in 1793. Soon, the business was to become known as Coates & Co., which it remained until March 2004. From 2005, the brand was owned by the Swedish company V&S Group, who also make Absolut Vodka. The brand is now owned and distributed by the French company Pernod Ricard as a result of its purchase of V&S in 2008.
The Plymouth Original Strength brand of gin is 41.2% ABV. It is distinctively different and slightly less dry than the much more common London style of gin, purportedly due to a higher than usual proportion of root ingredients, which bring a more 'earthy' feel to the gin as well as a softened juniper flavour. There is also a 'navy strength' variety which is 57% ABV (100° English proof), being the traditional strength demanded by the British Royal Navy.  A 47% ABV (94 U.S. proof) version is distributed worldwide.
Gin, originally being a relatively cheap alcoholic beverage, was bought by the poor and caused considerable social problems, illustrated and satirised by the engraving 'Gin Lane' by Hogarth in 1751. The global deployment of the British Royal Navy led to the renown and wide consumption of the product. In British India, it was mixed with the tonic water consumed for the anti-malarial properties of quinine, which led to the creation of the Gin and Tonic.
Plymouth Gin was very popular in the first part of the 20th century. 23 gin based cocktail recipes in the Savoy book of cocktails name Plymouth Gin specifically. It was a tradition in the Royal Navy that all newly commissioned vessels receive a "Plymouth Gin Commissioning kit", a wooden box containing two bottles of navy strength Plymouth gin and glassware.
The previous bottle of the standard strength Plymouth brand depicts one of the monastery's friars on the inside of the back label. It was said that when the monk's feet 'got dry', it was time for a new bottle. Since mid-2006, the bottle has been changed to an Art Deco style. The front of the bottle depicts the ship, Mayflower, based upon the fact that when the Pilgrim Fathers set out for their journey to the new world, bad sea conditions and damage forced them to put into Plymouth harbour for shelter and essential repairs. Local tradition has it that some of them stayed in the monastery, which later became the distillery. In the same way as the monk's feet, one can say it's time to get a new bottle when the Mayflower 'no longer sails on gin'.
From January 2012, the packaging has again been redesigned, this time returning to a more classical "shaving bottle" shape with a slightly green tint and the words "Est. 1793 / Black Friars Distillery" embossed on the front. This packaging is currently not available in the UK except from the distillery shop itself, the packaging is however available in the export market.
Plymouth's most recent performance at international spirit ratings competitions has tapered somewhat, but it has garnered a substantial array of awards over the years, including two double gold, two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition between 2006-2011.
- E.U. Definitions of Categories of Alcoholic Beverages 110/2008, M(b), 2008
- "Plymouth Gin". Attractions in Devon. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
- "Plymouth Navy Strength". Retrieved 2010-10-06.
- "Gin Ahoy! A Navy-Strength Fleet Arrives". The New York Times. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-25.