Discovering Plymouth – the City and the Gin

It was an early start to the day as we needed to get on a train and head to Plymouth. Pernod Ricard had made it easy for us to pack just what we needed by giving us each our own stylish overnight bags with our names engraved in the leather tags.

Just about everyone who knows me understands that I do not like train rides, but I made it through this one by doing some work and reading.  We were also in first class so there were drinks and snacks offered throughout the ride (translate: wine to calm me). The four hours went by a little quicker than I expected. I even enjoyed looking at some of the English countryside.

Sean Harrison, Master Distiller and Distillery Manager for Plymouth Gin, met us and we went straight upstairs at the distillery where they had their own brasserie. Everyone raved about the fish and chips, a specialty of the restaurant.

After lunch we went on a tour through town which culminated in the spot that the Mayflower took off for what would eventually be the United States. It was rather surreal listening to Sean Harrison tell us the story as a strong shower came through. Though it was windy and there was even a bit of hail in the monsoon like rain, he kept talking about that time in the 15th century, accustomed to the wet and wild weather!

We walked back to the distillery through this English fishing village wishing we had more time to explore, but there was gin to be sampled and studied. Sean was a wealth of knowledge and he we learned all about the production of Plymouth and the seven ingredients used in its making – juniper, coriander, cardamom, lemon peel, orange peel, oris root and angelica root.

The tasting room was filled with gins from all over the world and we examined about just how different gin could be. Then, to prove the point, we were each allowed to make our own gin – using whatever combination of ingredients we wanted. The only requirement was the juniper, which gives the spirit the distinction of being gin. After we had sampled, five other gins, with more floral and citrus notes, we could pick up the buttery taste of Plymouth from its particular wheat grain.

I relished the chance to make my perfect spirit without citrus. It had lots of juniper and equal parts of nutmeg and cinnamon. I also added just a touch of oris root. Sean showed us how it goes through the distillation process with small distillers and I have to admit my gin came out quite good. (I got to bring some home and a friend confirmed that it was tasty.)

We had cocktails in the lounge before leaving the distillery. I ordered a Sloegasm, a simple, but refreshing mixture of champagne and sloe gin. We didn’t stay long, though, because we had to check in to St.Elizabeth’s House, an attractive and comfortable inn, and get ready for dinner.

Each room at the inn was unique. Mine looked pretty basic until I went into the bathroom. It was larger than the room itself, with two small bathtubs centered on the left and a shower in the corner.

After cocktails at the bar, we had dinner in the banquet room at St. Elizabeth’s.  The filet mignon topped with foie gras was good, but the potatoes au gratin were worth raving about. I also had a second crème brulee for the day, which is never something to complain about.  A few of the other writers stayed downstairs for a drink, but I was done after a long day and took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep before our second day in Plymouth.


  1. Just looking at the photo of the fish and chips has brought on a massive craving :P


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