Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that gets its flavors from the juniper berry. Originally gin was consumed as a medicinal liqueur by monks in Europe. Today gin is produced in different ways from a large range of herbal ingredients.
This has given rise to various styles and brands such as Plymouth Gin. It is often consumed with tonic water in a gin and tonic.
History of Gin
Gin originates from the Netherlands. During the Middle Ages, people used juniper berries for medicinal purposes to fight fever.
Dutch doctor Franciscus Sylvius de la Boe is the inventor of gin. He made schnaps distilled with juniper berries and it was called “genever” This was consumed for medicinal purposes.
During the 17th century, genever came to England and that is where the term “Gin” originates from. Gin became very popular because everyone was allowed to distill their own gin.
By 1733 the brits were consuming an average of 47million liters of gin. This became known as “The gin craze”.
To save the British society from alcoholism the government introduced the “Gin Acts” between 1729 and 1751. This regulated Gin consumption and improved the quality.
During the 19th century when Britain occupied India, soldiers used to drink quinine to prevent malaria. To cover the bitter taste, they used added sugar, water, and lime. That is where gin & tonic originates from.
Today gin is a very popular drink and comes in a variety of flavors.
Four Categories of gin
- Juniper-flavored spirit drink – This may also be sold under the names of Wacholder or Ginebra. It is produced by pot distilling of fermented grain mash to moderate strength of about 68%ABV. It is then redistilled with botanicals to extract the flavors. It must be bottled with a minimum of 30% ABV.
- Gin – This method does not have redistillation. It is made by adding natural flavoring ingredients to a neutral spirit. The predominant flavor must be juniper and the minimum bottle strength must be 37.5% ABV
- Distilled Gin – This is produced by redistilling ethanol of an agricultural origin with an initial strength of 96% ABV. The juniper taste must be predominant, and the minimum bottle strength must be 37.5% ABV
- London Gin – This may also be called dry gin. It is made from ethanol of an agricultural origin. The flavor is introduced through the redistillation in traditional stills. The predominant flavor must be juniper and the minimum bottle strength must be 37.5% ABV.
Production of Gin
Gin consists of four basic ingredients namely a fermented base, water, juniper berries, and additional botanicals. The base for the liqueur is normally a mixture of grains. After the fermentation process, it produces ethanol.
Juniper berries are added during the distillation process. Water is added after the distillation period to obtain the desired alcohol by volume.
There are three different distillation methods. Steeping, vapor infusion, and vacuum distillation. For the seeping method, the distiller mixes ethanol & botanicas in a pot still.
The botanicals are steep in the base spirit. Botanicals can steep for up to 48 hours.
Vapor infusion involves a still known as the Carter head still. The still is heated and the vapors rise. Essential oils are released into the vapors to create botanical flavors.
Vacuum or cold distillation requires a low-pressure vacuum environment. This reduces the ethanol boiling point, and the natural botanical flavors remain intact.
More than one method might be used to produce gin.
About Plymouth Gin
Plymouth Gin was established in 1793. It is a brand and style of gin that has been produced on the same premises on the Barbican in Plymouth, Devon.
The Plymouth gin distillery was built in 1431 and was once a monastery of the Dominican order. Traditionally it is known as “Blackfriars Distillery” and the name appears embossed on the gin bottles.
Plymouth gin is considered an offshoot of London dry gin. Its flavor is earthy and less dry, with notes of citrus. Up until 2015, Plymouth was one of only three fins in the world that carried a geographical indication.
Plymouth gin has an earthy flavor due to a higher proportion of root ingredients. It is also less dry than London gin. The original strength is 41.2% ABV and a 47% ABV is distributed worldwide.
They also produce a “navy strength”, which is 57% ABV, this is the traditional strength demanded by the British royal navy.
Traditionally the royal navy would receive a “Plymouth gin commissionaire kit” that consisted of a wooden box containing two bottles of nave strength Plymouth gin and glasses.
During the first half of the 18th century and during the gin craze, Plymouth gin was considered more favorable. This was due to its stability and reliability.
The deployment of the British naval led to the wide and renowned consumption of Plymouth gin. A total of 23 gin-based recipes in the Savoy book of cocktails name Plymouth gin specifically.
Fox & Williams began distilling the Plymouth brand in 1973. The business became known as Coates & Co up until March 2004.
In 2005 the company was sold to V&S group who also produces Absolut Vodka. The band was purchased by Pernod Richard in 2008.
Plymouth Gin Products and Prices
Plymouth Original gin – 750ml – $26.99 – $34.99
Blended from seven hand-selected botanicals that result in a rich, smooth taste. These include juniper berries, coriander seed, green cardamom, orange peels, lemon peels, angelica root, and orris root.
It has won several awards, namely the 2016 San Francisco world spirit competition – double gold. 2015 International spirit challenge – Gold and 2010 San Francisco world competition 0 gold.
Plymouth gin Navy strength – 750ml – $34.99 – $37.99
This has an intense bold flavor. It is the winner of various rewards including the 2011 San Francisco world spirits competition – Gold. 2010 International spirit challenge – Gold and 2010 San Francisco competition – double gold.
Plymouth Sloe Gin – 750ml – $34.99 – $37.99
Sloe berries the English style. It is smooth and full-bodied, with a balanced sweetness and acidity. The finish is long, fresh, and fruity. It won a gold medal in the San Francisco world spirits competition in 2011.
Plymouth Gin Fruit cup – 750ml – $23.99 – $25.99
This is an aromatic and complex traditional base for fruity summer cocktails.
Mr King’s 1842 recipe gin – 750ml – $51.99 – $53.99
This was produced using a single origin juniper, picked on one day, from a mountain in Frontignano, Italy. Only one batch was made.
It consisted of juniper berries and orris roots. It has earthy tones with floral notes. The finish is long and complex with hints of pine and lavender.
Competitors’ products and prices
How to drink Gin
Gin is a very versatile drink that can be consumed in various ways. You can enjoy it neat without any chilling. Drink the gin in slow sips to enjoy the flavor.
It can also be enjoyed chilled without ice. This is also called bone dry gin martini. Another way is on the rocks, meaning it is served with ice cubes or whiskey stones.
A classic way to enjoy gin is with tonic water. Usually, lime or lemon is used to garnish. Gin can also be mixed with soda water or citrus-infused sodas. Ginger ale is also a delicious combination.
You can also serve gin with fresh herb leaves such as rosemary, thyme, mint, or sage. A gin martini is also a very popular gin drink.
- 2 ½ ounces of gin
- ½ ounce of dry vermouth
- Dash of aromatic bitters
- Lemon Twist or olives for garnish
- Combine the gin and vermouth over ice cubes
- Stir and strain into a cocktail glass
- Add a dash of bitters
- Garnish with a lemon twist or olives.