Opihr (Oriental Spiced) Gin
Review: Opihr Gin (83/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 03, 2017
Opihr Gin was created (for Quintessential Brands) by Joanne Moore, who also was the creative force behind my recently reviewed Bloom Gin (see review here). Opihr is a unique style of London Dry Gin created from hand-picked exotic botanicals which were collected along the original trade routes which brought Oriental spices to the Western World. These spices include cubeb peppers from Malaysia (isle of Malacca), cardamom and Tellicherry black peppers from India’s south-east coast in Malabar, spicy cumin seeds from Turkey, juniper from Venice, coriander from Morocco, and oranges from Spain.
The spices are bought to England’s oldest continuously operating gin distillery (G & J Greenall), where within a copper pot still, Opihr Gin is produced using the same London Dry method that has been used at that distillery since 1761.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin arrives in the squat round clear bottle shown to the left. The bottle has great ‘eye appeal’ with a strong colour scheme and interesting decorative accents which hint at the exotic nature of the gin. My only quibble is with the relatively short neck which makes pouring just a little more difficult than it ought to be.
In the Glass 8/10
When poured into my glencairn, Opihr Gin is a colourless liquid which has just a touch of an oily texture. My immediate impression is that there is perhaps a little too much going on in the breezes. The combination of spices and botanicals has all at once, a peppery, fruity citrus, and lightly perfumed character which seems a touch confused.
Cardamom appears to lead out in front of that parade with coriander providing additional spice as well as a bit of a lemony twist in the breezes. Orange peel and grapefruit peel combine and meld into a softly sweet orange Curacao-like scent adding to that impression of tropical citrus in the breezes. Mint and licorice root are hinted at, although whether these botanicals are in the mix as well or whether the impression is created by the combination of exotic spices is unknown to me.
As the gin settles down I begin to notice hints of funk in the breezes which I suspect is a combination of the pungent cumin, another swat of cardamom, and some spicy black pepper wisping in the background. And, although I did not notice it immediately, there is also a soft presence of juniper and perhaps angelica root in the air adding a touch of earthiness to the exotic spice.
The gin seems quite complex, but as I indicated, it also seems to be going in too many directions at once.
In The Mouth 50/60
Opihr Gin has a lightly oily texture which feels nice in the mouth. This is combined with a very aggressive flavour profile which seems to take me on a frantic ride. Peppery spices and bursts of citrus compete for my attention, and both of those flavour impressions are impacted by a light herbal (almost perfumed) character. The juniper (which should be a little more forceful) is obscured by the three C’s (cardamom, coriander and cumin), and I am a struggling not only with respect to which taste descriptors I should be using to describe the gin, but also with respect to how I should be attempting to serve the spirit to my friends.
I decided to check the Opihr Gin website for cocktail suggestions. Two caught my eye, the Phonecian Rita, which is similar to my Lady of the Empire cocktail and the Red Snapper, which has similar elements to that great Canadian brunch serving, the Caesar cocktail. I decided to mix both serviongs. The Phoenician Rita has a construction which would suit most good London Dry Gins; however, I found the aggressive flavour of the Opihr Gin did not lend itself easily to this style of cocktail. The mixed drink seemed to carry the same confusion I found in the gin.
The Red Snapper on the other hand, would not be considered a typical gin cocktail, and I had a hunch that the aggressive flavour of the Opihr would suit the spicy ‘Caesar style’ quite well. I was right, and if Bloody Mary and Caesar Cocktails are your thing, then you would not be disappointed if you swapped out your vodka for Opihr Gin the next time you tried one.
In the Throat 12.5/15
The exit is relatively smooth at least as far as gin is concerned with lightly spicy coriander and cardamom giving way to a spicier feeling of black pepper. Hints of mint and black licorice provide a touch of soothing relief, and I find myself wishing for a touch more juniper.
The Afterburn 8/10
I have to admit that I found Opihr Gin just a little too far off the beaten path for my personal preference. It is a London Dry Gin that walks to a different beat of spice, citrus and light perfume than I am used to. Interestingly, I found that my friends who did not care for gin seemed to like the Opihr more than those who were avid gin enthusiasts. And that could be the point, as perhaps this spirit seeks more to convert new aficionados to its charm rather than speaking to the typical gin enthusiast.
I did find a cocktail that suited its particular flavour rather well, and I have shared that recipe down below. You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
The Red Snapper
2 oz Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin
4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
Stick of Celery (garnish)
Fill a tall glass with ice
Add Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin and the other ingredients
Garnish with a stick of celery
Note: If you are interested in more original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)