Hello & ahoy! I’ve been meaning to post about the Plymouth portion of the English Gins trip for some time, but in the midst of more (booze-related) travels and deadlines, it got lost in the shuffle. Sorry, Plymouth!

This is the entrance to Black Friars Distillery, where Plymouth gin has been made in succession for more than two centuries. Two centuries! That’s a very, very long time. The building itself it 600 years old. That’s older than this country…which was started by a boatload of English folks who arrived via Plymouth. (FULL CIRCLE!)

There did come a time, we learned — a dark time we shan’t speak of — when the original ingredients for Plymouth gin were on short supply due to spotty foreign relations during WWII, and as a result, lesser quality stuff was subbed in, and the resulting gin was kind of foul. And just like that, Plymouth’s reputation was tainted. Poor Plymouth.

Thankfully in the mid-1990s, Plymouth hired this guy:

This is Sean Harrison, Master Distiller of Plymouth gin. He is a very nice gent and a snappy dresser, to boot. (Note the pinstripe blazer, the baby-blue sweater and pink-plaid shirt beneath.) One of Sean’s first decisions was to revert back to Plymouth’s original formula — the pre-WWII formula — in hopes of restoring Plymouth’s reputation. It worked, I think. It’s quite delicious, and an increasing number of people have begun taking notice over the course of the past decade.

Sean led us on a lovely tour of Black Friar’s Distillery, which is rumored to be haunted…but these guys keep watch at night:

Black Friars’ distillery’s wee friars.

We were then invited to make our own gin, using a personalized ratio of Plymouth’s six ingredients:

Those would be the base juniper berries in the center; from above-left are coriander seeds, cardamom pods, ground orris root, angelica root, orange peel, and lemon peel. I went quite heavy on the juniper, as well as the angelica root — which is very licorice-like. I love that. This is my gin in process:

I dubbed my gin The Gincident, and it turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. I went heavy on the angelica, which gave it a very nice licorice-like quality. I love that.

We ended our day back at the lovely St. Elizabeth’s House, which I’d love to return to someday, and had a very long, elegant, relaxed dinner in the main ballroom. By the end of our meal, there were six glasses in front of me: one for each course — paired, naturally. I believe everyone got a good night’s rest thereafter.

Coming soon: Part II of our Plymouth Party.