Plymouth Gin Distillery

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Plymouth Gin Distillery
Plymouth Gin Distillery.jpg
The Plymouth Gin Distillery
General information
TypeGin Distillery
AddressBlack Friars Distillery
60 Southside Street
Coordinates50°22′03″N 4°08′15″W / 50.367619°N 4.137461°W / 50.367619; -4.137461Coordinates: 50°22′03″N 4°08′15″W / 50.367619°N 4.137461°W / 50.367619; -4.137461
DesignationsGrade II* listed

The Plymouth Gin Distillery in The Barbican, Plymouth, England has been in operation since 1793[1] and used to be a significant manufacturer of gin in the UK. Also known as the Black Friars Distillery, it is the only gin distillery in the city.[2]

The original building opens on to what is now Southside Street. Local tradition has it that it is located in what was once a Dominican Order monastery, built in 1431, although there is no evidence to support this.[3] It is also said that some of the Pilgrim Fathers may have stayed here while the Mayflower was in the harbour for repairs before finally setting sail to North America. This is where the ship on the company label is thought to have originated from.[1]

It was a large merchant's house dating from around 1500. By 1605 the building was used as a gaol, and a Congregational meeting house from 1689 to 1705.[citation needed] It was remodelled and extended as a gin distillery from 1793 when Coates joined with the established business of Fox & Williamson.[4] The business was known as Coates & Co. until March 2004.[5]

It is now a bar with bistro above,[6] and the distillery provides several tours.[7] Since 2005 the brand and premises have been owned by the Scandinavian V&S Group, better known for making Absolut Vodka, who in turn were later acquired by Pernod-Ricard.[8]

Plymouth Gin is still made here, and in recent years[when?] there has been an increase in the popularity of the distinctive sweeter and lighter but stronger Plymouth flavour, compared to the more usual London Dry Gin.[citation needed] The company has produced a large range of promotional items, including Dartmouth Potteries Gurgle Jugs, miniatures, glasses, ashtrays, match strikers, etc. Many of these have become very collectable.

On the afternoon of 27 February 2008, the building was substantially damaged by a kitchen fire starting in the nearby (and that time recently opened) Barbican Kitchen, which has subsequently re-opened.[9]


  1. ^ a b Williams, Olivia (2014). Gin Glorious Gin. London: Healine Publishing Group. p. 313. ISBN 978-1-4722-1534-5.
  2. ^ "Gin Foundry review of Plymouth Gin & Plymouth Navy Gin". Gin Foundry. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  3. ^ Historic England. "The Distillery Public House, Former Coates Gin Distillery (1386410)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 November 2016. There is no evidence that it was ever used as a friary (local tradition).
  4. ^ Majhen, Thomas (24 March 2013). Die Barfibel (in German). epubli. p. 522. ISBN 9783844252330.
  5. ^ "5 Gorgeous Gin Distilleries - Great British Food Magazine". Great British Food Magazine. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Plymouth Gin". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Plymouth Gin". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  8. ^ Kiste, John Van der (November 2011). The Little Book of Devon. History Press. ISBN 9780750953948.
  9. ^ "Distillery fire damage restricted". BBC News. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2016.

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