Our selection for May 2010 is Plymouth Gin!
(Sorry about flaking out last month, guys. I'm in the process of tying up loose ends and changing jobs, and interviews had me out of town -Pat)
Few things in life please me quite like a late-Spring gin cocktail. And few gins please me quite like Plymouth. Tim's a Boodle's man, many of you are Hendricks' guys. My first gin love? Plymouth. I've since come around to many varietals, but I'll still have a soft spot in my heart for the product of that small city on the coast of Devon. In fact, the style and brand of gin known as Plymouth can by law, only be produced in Plymouth England.
What makes it different? Well, it's a bit sweeter and lighter than many gins. Wikipedia calls it "earthy," but I tend to think of it as more balanced and aromatic than other gins that are occasionally overpowered by juniper. Therefore, the taste is more rounded and less sharp, and you taste more of the root ingredients beneath the juniper and citrus peel. And the standard issue isn't quite as alcohol-laden as others at a respectable 82.4pr. However (although I've never seen it myself), they offer a "Navy Strength" bottling at 57%. Supposedly this would be to prevent ruining gunpowder, similar to the story about proofing bourbon that most American imbibers know. But IMO, if you're in danger of spilling gin on your gunpowder, you've probably had a bit too much.
Plymouth is distilled in the oldest gin distillery in the world. The building is a former Dominican monastery built in 1431 and records date distilling activities at the site in 1697. Perhaps apocryphal stories state many of the original Pilgrims spent their last night in England there, and an homage is paid them with the Mayflower
ship on the label. Plymouth was first distilled there in 1793. It became popular amongst officers of the British Navy and was therefore shipped all over the world. It, like most high-quality foreign-distilled spirits, was particularly popular in the US during prohibition. As of 2008, the brand is now owned by Pernod Ricard. Historically, Plymouth is reportedly yet another favorite of Churchill and FDR, as well as Ian Fleming and Alfred Hitchcock.
It's a great time of year for gin cocktails -- gimlets, g&t's, negronis, and of course, the martini! Let us know how you like it and your opinion of Plymouth!
Oh, and have a look at our past selections on the B&B Wiki
if you get a chance!