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. As you can see, it was foggy and drizzly. I should have booked a room at a hotel where I could have dropped my bags, instead of an Airbnb. But sometimes you need to add a little bit of local flavor to your experience. And my host turned out to be very nice.
Since I hadn’t eaten since my 5:30am breakfast, I found a place that served me 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, they told us that all Plymouth Gin has been made right behind the glass 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 at the Oldest Gin Distillery
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 room is lined with shelves that hold 300+ bottles of gin from around the world. We learned how to sip and sample five popular types of gin, diluted with water. In the blind tasting, I learned 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 at the Oldest Gin Distillery
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 a 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.
We heated up the ingredients and after the distillation process ended, 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!