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Plymouth Gin Distillery is best known for producing Plymouth gin - not just a singular bottling, but an actual style of gin. It was the only gin in the UK to have a Protected Geographical Indication within the European Union as, by law, it can only be produced in the town of Plymouth. This status was awarded after a London distiller began producing a bottling it called ‘Plymouth’ gin. A legal judgement followed in the 1880's which sided with Plymouth-based distilleries who sought to protect the name. However, this protective status will lapse and is not set to be renewed. Plymouth gin as a style was dominant for some time as the gin of choice in many cocktails, as you can see from its numerous inclusions from the Savoy Cocktail book from 1930. It was also a favourite of the likes of Winston Churchill and Alfred Hitchcock yet. At Plymouth Gin Distillery, the only current variety of Plymouth gin is produced in a still which has not been changed for over 150 years. The building Plymouth Gin Distillery occupies currently dates back to the early 1400s. The refectory room, a still-intact part of the distillery, was previously a medieval hall built in 1431. This makes it one of the oldest buildings in Plymouth and the site is protected as a national monument. The distillery buildings were formerly a monastery inhabited by the Black Friars It was also previously been a large merchant's house in the 16th century, a gaol and then Congregational meeting house in the 17th all the way through to the end of the 18th century, when it was remodelled and extended as a gin distillery in 1793, making it the oldest British gin distillery still operating in its original location. Some records even detail a ‘mault-house’ on the premises going back to 1697. Some say the pilgrim fathers spent their last night in England there in 1620, before setting sail on the Mayflower on their epic voyage to start a new life in America where they founded a new Plymouth. This is why the Mayflower ship forms Plymouth Gin’s trademark label today. During the 19th century, the brand struck up a very profitable commercial relationship with the Royal Navy. By 1850 they were said to be buying over 1,000 barrels of Plymouth Gin a year. So much of navy gin history is linked to Plymouth that some even think it’s possible that the term ‘Navy Gin’ emanates from Plymouth distillery. The business was known as Coates & Co. until March 2004 when the Scandinavian V&S Group (creators of Absolut Vodka) bought out the brand and premise, before it in turn was acquired by Pernod Ricard. A kitchen fire on 27 February 2008 substantially damaged the building, but fortunately, the heritage site and distillery still stands proudly, now with a bar and bistro above. The distillery provides several tours and has garnered great local acclaim. The team at Plymouth Gin Distillery was honoured at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2017-18 and has previously won gold at Devon Tourism Awards 2017 for Small Attraction of the Year and Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience, as well as bronze in the Guide Tour of the Year category.

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