Name: Opihr Oriental Spiced London Dry Gin (40% ABV)
Distilled:'The oldest distillery in England' according to the Opihr Gin web site. Some quick Googling helps me to discover that the oldest distiller of gin is G&J Distillers in Warrington, North West England. They distil Greenall's London Dry Gin among others.
Encountered: My brother bought this for me for Christmas. I had never heard of it and was therefore very impressed, and excited to try it. Thank you David!
Flavours According to Me: Spicy! Like coriander, which is the only spice I can think of right now that this scent and taste, reminiscent of Indian spices, reminds me of. And I'm thinking: oh please let me have got it right! I so often get flavours wrong, or miss them altogether. Such is the (lack of) sophistication of my palate. Also, it both smells and tastes like pilau rice, which is at once interesting and a little scary, as I am always freaked out by drink that tastes like food (beer is the biggest offender - it is liquid bread.) It doesn't taste like gin to me, if I'm honest. It's certainly not traditional.
Actual Flavours: There is coriander in it! Hooray! Coriander from Morocco apparently, as well as spicy cubeb berries from Indonesia and black pepper from India. Apparently what I am smelling when I take a sniff over the uncorked neck of the bottle is cumin and cardamom. The taste is heavy, but not too heavy. And unlike some spicy gins I have tasted, there is no unpleasant, hard after taste. It's just the right side of unusual, before 'unusual' becomes 'upsetting'.
Extra Good Stuff: The web site includes tasting notes, which is always handy. And it's a good web site. There's also a cocktail list there as well. As a side note - the only annoying thing about researching gin online is that every 2 minutes you are forced to enter your date of birth into a web site before it will let you enter. Yes, I'm over 18. But I could be lying.
Trivia: 'Opihr' is pronounced 'o-peer' and the word doesn't exist. However, if you change the letters around ever so slightly, you get 'Ophir', which is a region mentioned in the Bible. It was quite wealthy, and King Solomon received a hefty gift from Ophir every 3 years - it included sandalwood, gold, ivory, pearls, apes and peacocks. Which incidentally, is all I want for my next birthday.
You Can't Judge a Bottle By It's Cover: I love the squat, square shape of this bottle. I love how fancy it is, like it's going to a carnival. It even has a red and gold rope around it's neck. Elephants in red and gold grace the label, and it has a map of the ancient spice route from Indonesia to Morocco via India on the back of the bottle. You can see it from the front - enlarged and floating, distorted by the liquid inside. The whole bottle screams 'Exotic!' Also, if you're into your bottle shape trivia, this sort of squat bottle is called a 'sumo' bottle. I will now research the names of every shape of bottle and get back to you.
Did I Like it?: I thought it was the best of the spicy gins I've tried - it manages to be interestingly spicy but not overwhelming, and even though I tend to enjoy floral or fruity gins more than spicy gins, I'll definitely be finishing off this bottle. Dan, who I've managed to get into gin purely by not shutting up about it, loves a spicy gin and he really loves Opihr.
Can You Buy It?: You can get Opihr in Waitrose apparently. Also in Tesco, Morrisons and Harvey Nichols. Posh. You can find your nearest stockist here (another great feature of the web site!)
Gin For Tea Rating: A solid 6 out of 10 teacups. As I said above, Opihr, to my mind anyway, isn't really a gin. But it's lovely all the same, and very creative. Quite a lot of peppery joy in a glass.
Name: Brooklyn Gin (40% ABV)
Distilled: New York (the clue's in the name!)
Encountered: I was looking for a bottle of gin I hadn't come across before to buy with a gift voucher for M&S. It's not often I get to be so posh as to shop in the Marks and Spencer food hall. On that day I wanted an impressive looking gin bottle to display on my gin shelf. Brooklyn Gin was it. Look at it! Look how gorgeous it is!
Flavours According To Me: I'm no expert yet (I'm working on it) but it doesn't taste of much. It tastes really...stripped back. There's the juniper flavour coming through really strongly. So strongly in fact that it makes me wince. And then...nothing. That's it, that's all I got. It's a harsh flavour, sweetened with nothing whatsoever, as far as I can tell. A brave move.
Actual Flavours: Juniper and citrus peel - that's all the bottle is giving away, that's all the web site is giving away and that's all I can find on various review sites. So I was right, it's a stripped back flavour. The big selling point appears to be that the juniper berries are hand cracked and the citrus is hand peeled. I think that's probably true of a lot of small batch gins though. The citrus presumeably exists in the mix to sweeten the juniper flavour but it doesn't work. I couldn't taste the citrus at all. I tried, I really did.
Extra Good Stuff: The Brooklyn Gin web site explains that the berries are hand cracked and the citrus fruit hand cut to create a more vibrant flavour than if the fruit had been frozen or dried. And that does work well - if I'm wincing as I'm sipping, it's because there's a BIG, sharp taste going on there. And gin should be sharp.
Trivia: The web site gives you nine cocktail recipes that you can make with Brooklyn gin. I like the look of the Parchment Fizz, which contains absinthe and pear brandy. I can imagine sitting in a New York speakeasy in the twenties, drinking any of these cocktails. The prohibition era of the 1920's in America was full of poor quality, homemade spirits that killed people. This is where the term 'bathtub gin' came from. Luckily, this stuff is much better quality!
You Can't Judge a Bottle by It's Cover: So by this point you might have gathered that Brooklyn Gin is not an immediate winner with me, where taste is concered. But oh my, just LOOK at that bottle. Angular shape, exquiste blue glass and a copper inlay for the label. It looks decadent. It looks very 1920's. I am in love with it.
Did I Like It?: I'm hoping it's a grower. I mean, it's won multiple awards in America so obviously it's a great tasting gin. But for my particular pallette it just felt too harsh, with not enough to soften it or make it truly interesting.
Can You Buy It?: You can buy it on Amazon for about £40 or in branches of M&S for £37. It's an expensive one for sure, but if you're a collector of rare or small batch gins, especially those in fantastic bottles, it's worth having.
Gin For Tea Rating: Out of ten teacups, I give it a 6. With some of the gin slopped out of the teacups. But the teacups are bone china and are being drunk by ladies in flapper dresses. Most of this score is for the bottle. The taste, as I say, may be one that grows on me. Time will tell.
Christina, 32, London. Likes gin.