A decade ago I explored the central and northern parts of England, feeling strangely at home among its countryside and moors. This summer I took a three-and-a-half hour train ride through those rolling green English hills (yes, dotted with sheep and cows), that was as idyllic as my memories. The journey brought me to the southwestern coast of England and the town of Plymouth.
Famed for being the port from which the Mayflower and its pilgrims set sail for America and as home to the British Royal Navy, Plymouth is also known for Plymouth Gin, distilled here since 1793 in the Black Friars Distillery. It is the most atmospheric distillery I've ever visited, oozing history from every wall. Stone, wood, and signature navy blue colors (a homage to the seaside location and the town's navy ties) define its look. Its gorgeous in-house bar evokes both farmhouse and chapel with a wood ceiling and warm, red walls.
Master distiller Sean Harrison was genuinely gracious and hospitable, an engaging conversationalist on numerous subjects. He took us out for haddock and chips, toured us through the distillery, taught us how to make our own basic gin, and treated us to a surprise English tea alongside a river in the woods.
-- Subscribe to Virgina's twice-monthly newsletter, The Perfect Spot