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Arriving in Plymouth, England

I woke up early to catch a train from London down to Plymouth, England where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World from in 1620. I walked to this lighthouse from the train station. It was so foggy and drizzly. I wished I had booked a hotel where I could have dropped my bags instead of an Airbnb. But, I was going to be making gin in the world’s oldest gin distillery, so a little bad weather wasn’t going to bother me.

Since I hadn’t eaten since my cold muesli breakfast at 5:30am, I hunted down a latte and some lunch. The falafel burger at Dutton’s was just what I needed – fresh, healthy and filling.

As you can see, the dreariness did not let up. I walked around town taking in the sights. This view across Sutton Harbor in Plymouth was quite beautiful. Hearty sailors were out in their boats and enjoyed my walk.

Plymouth Gin Distillery

Finally, I had wasted enough time to get to the main event – the Plymouth Gin Distillery Master Distiller’s Tour. If you know me, you know that I LOVE gin. If I am ever presented with a cocktail menu, my eyes immediately scan to see what gin offering is available. It’s just such a complex spirit. I was researching the oldest gin distillery still in operation, and learned that it’s Plymouth. I figured it was worth a visit.

After learning about the history of the building and the gin itself, we learned that all Plymouth Gin is made right behind the glass. Every drop has been made here since 1793. Because they utilize a heating method for distilling, they are able to make gin quickly. The gin doesn’t need to soak or sit).

Tasting Gin

Part of our entry fee for the tour went towards a complimentary gin and tonic. I arrived early, so I enjoyed my cocktail before the tour began downstairs. Yummy!

After our tour, we headed into the gin palace. The walls of the room are lined with 300+ bottles of gin from all over the world. We learned how to sip and sample five popular types of gin, diluted with water. In the blind tasting, I was surprised to learn that I prefer Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire the most out of what we sampled. It’s amazing how much easier it is to figure out what you like without knowing what you’re tasting.

Making Gin

After the tasting came the best part, which I had missed on the website. We got to make our own gin! We got to pick out our own flavors based on what we’d learned we liked in the tasting. The ingredients we chose from were amazing. They had us distill 250 ml of our individual blends, complete with custom label.

You can see the ingredients along the top and a close-up photo of the juniper berries and the orange peel in the right-hand grid. My full dry blend is in the scoop to the left and the final 80% gin is in the bottle next to my custom label.

After the process was over, the gin was cut with distilled water to bring it up to 40% ABV. The air bubbles quickly disappeared as the chemical reaction between the water, alcohol, and the oils from the herbs took place. The chemical reaction process heated up the bottle. It was an awesome way to spend two and a half hours. I would highly recommend making gin in the world’s oldest gin distillery. Cheers!

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