Storeroom Stories: Plymouth Gin Bottle

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 10.11.25 AMBy Alexis Drapanas & Grace Tapert

The Coates & Cos Plymouth Gin glass bottle was donated to the Charleston Museum for its Material Culture Collection by Dr. F.G. Cain on December 3, 1970. Plymouth Gin was established by Coates & Cos in 1793 at Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth, England and quickly rose to success around the world thanks to its popularity among the British Royal Navy, with over 1,000 cases a week being shipped to New York alone. The official trademark of Plymouth Gin today consists of a reprint of the Mayflower Ship to honor the Pilgrim Fathers who imbibed at the distillery to spend their last night before setting sail to found America. However, the label on the front of this bottle depicts Plymouth Gin’s former trademark: a jolly monk (who first made his appearance on the bottle in the 1870’s) with two medals either side of him, which were introduced on the label in 1884 for its achievement at the Prize Medal Health Exhibition. What is most interesting about the bottle, however, is a reward label on the back of it that states:

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 10.11.19 AM$100.00 Reward will be paid for the detection and conviction of any person, or persons, found refilling our bottles or putting up imitation goods in bottles similar to ours, and offering them for sale with intent to deceive the public.

These labels were most likely added to their bottles following Coates & Cos win in an 1880’s legal battle against another London distiller who began producing “Plymouth Gin.” The lawsuit resulted in Plymouth Gin becoming the only gin in the United Kingdom to have a Protected Geographical Indication within the European Union, meaning that the object of production in its entirety must be traditionally and at least fractionally manufactured within a precise location, and thus consist of particular resources. Since its establishment in 1793, Coates & Cos has continued to produce its Plymouth Gin in the same manner and location that it originated with over 150 years ago, making Black Friars Distillery the oldest British distillery still in use today as Plymouth Gin continues to be a consumer favorite looking for world renowned smooth gin.Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 10.11.06 AM

Works Cited

Gin Foundry , 30 November 2015,

Gin Time, The Site for Gin Lovers Everywhere, Geraldine Coates, 30 November 2015,

Plymouth GinWorld Renowned Smooth Gin, Plymouth Gin, 30 September 2015,

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