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Plymouth Gin to ditch its geographical indication

Plymouth Gin is to lose its geographical indication (GI) as French brand owner Pernod Ricard is withdrawing its support for the protective status.

plymouth gin
Plymouth Gin, England’s only protected spirit, will soon lose its geographical indication

Plymouth Gin is currently the UK’s only gin with a GI, and England’s only protected spirit.

Pernod Ricard’s decision will mean gins produced in the South West English city will forgo their right to claim protective status within the EU, unless another producer steps forward to pick up the fight.

However, it’s “highly unlikely” another distiller will have the right credentials to be able to support the GI.

Louise Foxwell, spirits policy manager at the WSTA, said: “Even if someone decided to set up a distillery in Plymouth now, I doubt very much they would get a GI because they have no history. Maybe there is someone who’s been making Plymouth gin all this time, but it’s highly unlikely.”

Products with a protected GI, such as Scotch whisky, Cognac or Parma ham, are governed by strict production regulations and may only be made within certain areas.

The British Department of Food, Rural and Agriculture (Defra), claims spirits with GIs “provide a boost for the UK economy,” with Scotch whisky in particular generating £4.3 billion in exports for the UK.

An official statement from Pernod Ricard said: “We have decided to withdraw our support of the Protected Geographic Indication for Plymouth Gin. Plymouth is an extremely well known and respected brand of gin, solely produced by our business and its predecessors for over 100 years.

“The brand name Plymouth is synonymous with our business, that of our predecessors, our distillers’ expertise, production facilities at the Blackfriars Distillery, our heritage and our history.  We shall, of course, continue to respect and invest in the traditions of our brand at its home at the Blackfriars Distillery in Plymouth.”

A spokesperson added that Pernod Ricard felt a GI should represent a collection of brands, rather than just one.

Plymouth gin martini
Pernod Ricard will continue to make Plymouth Gin at the Blackfriars Distillery

European regulations

As part of the introduction of the EU spirit drink regulations in 2008, all carriers of a GI were required to submit a dossier to the European Commission detailing the particular geographical and organoleptic characteristics of their spirits.

The deadline for submission is February 2015. If another distiller with adequate heritage is interested in supporting the Plymouth Gin GI, it has less than three months to begin production in the region and submit its dossier.

Those looking for further information should contact Defra. The body said in a statement: “We are supporting industry to help them secure the future of Plymouth Gin’s GI.”

There are two other gins produced in the EU that carry a GI – Gin Mahón from Spain and Vilnius from Lithuania.

Plymouth Gin has been made at the Blackfriars Distillery since 1793.


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