Drink Review: Bloom 40% abv, Greenalls 40% abv, Opihr 40% abv, Berkeley 40% abv
The one thing these four gins have in common is that they are all made under the same roof. A roof that has been sheltering a gin distillery for over 250 years, making it the oldest distillery in the UK. G & J Distillers have been open since 1761, still use traditional copper pots, and have produced some of the award-winning London Dry Gins throughout the centuries.
Chances are you may have tasted one of their bottles already as they make most of the supermarket gins. At £6 a bottle though, it’s hard to expect quality but I’m hoping they save their best efforts for these.
Amazingly, they’ve only hired 7 master distillers in their lifespan with the current one being the first female distiller in the world, Joanne Moore. This seems a bit unusual for the modern age and begs the question of why no woman has been employed to do this job before. These four gins will hopefully answer that question.
This gin is entirely inspired by flowers, and a woman’s touch is evident. The name, bottle and ingredients all sound like Bloom could be found on an East-end allotment. Flowers and Pomelo fruit make up the perfume of this elaborate gin and with a splash of spring water the end result is a crystal clear solution in the bottom of my glass.
It smells extremely strong, similar to a waft of vodka, with the trademark gin smell of perfume. The taste is slightly bitter with a hint of lime that hits the back of your neck. There are subtle flavours of the chamomile flower and I get just a note of grapefruit. While the gin tastes as though it was made in the most maintained English cottage garden, Bloom tastes citrusy and floral, a direct result of Moore’s inspiration.
The recipe for this gin is a closely guarded secret that apparently only 7 master distillers know. But what Greenalls can tell us is that there is definitely juniper, lemon and a pinch of coriander seeds mixed in. In a world where naked photos get leaked and a Royal’s tits aren’t safe sunbathing, it’s impressive that they’ve kept this secret. Inspired by recipes of the same age as the distillery, Greenalls claim they are intending to keep a similar level of quality too.
The taste is smooth and classic with no surprises. The juniper is the dominating flavour with citrus and spices tending to fall into the shadow. It’s hard to get excited about this spirit, as there’s nothing unique about it. It’s clean and serves as well as just a bog-standard gin.
Opihr (pronounced O-peer) is a winner for me as it’s the most unique of all of the G&J gins. Beyond its name, which is taken from a secret town somewhere in the Orient, the Asian influences are blended with hand-picked botanicals from various regions including India, Indonesia and Morocco. The key ingredients are black pepper, spicy cubeb berries and coriander, sounding like a dish fit for a sultan.
It smells like pilau rice, instantly making me hungry and causing me to dream of eating chicken, which would combine well with the taste of the gin. Opihr has that curry-like flavour with a touch of coriander and cumin spices being more evident.
This upmarket ultra-premium pricey gin is highly regarded in the world of Mayfair. What makes it so unique is that the botanicals are wrapped in a muslin cloth then drenched in triple-distilled spirit in order to achieve a more herbaceous result. The ingredients include sage, lavender, kaffir lime leaves and basil and are made into a ‘bouquet garni’.
The end result is strong in flavour with a wisp of lavender. It reminds me of a wealthy fur-coated old woman who enjoys her quality G&Ts in dim-lit oak bars. The boutique style of this gin is for people who savour quality and craft. Though it’s a gem of a gin, its clear flavour doesn’t electrify me enough to spend £40 on a bottle.