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Review

Opihr
Oriental Spiced Gin

Distillery

G & J Greenall International (Quintessential Brands), Risley, Warrington, England, UK.

Website

Opihr GinQuintessential Brands and G & J Greenall.

History

Established back in 1761, Greenall’s are the oldest continuously producing London Dry Gin distillery in the world. Thomas Dakin built the distillery initially, Edward Greenall started using it and in 1870 it was purchased completely (The G&J comes from Edward’s younger brothers – Gilbert & John). The previous chairman, Lord Daresbury, was a direct descendent of Edward Greenall. The family motto “Alto Peto” translates as "I Strive Higher". This once cottage based industry is now the second largest gin distillery in Britain, producing over 50% of the UK’s Gin and almost 15% of the world’s Gin. In 2011 the business was bought by Quintessential Brands.

This Gin was launched in early summer 2013 in the UK and in the late summer of 2013 in Spain.

Production

Developed by Joanne Moore (nee Simcock) the Master Distiller at G&J Greenall’s.

The Gin is presented in a clear squat “circular” bottle with a large oval dark blue label on the front. Opihr is clearly written in the center in white with “Oriental Spiced” and “London Dry Gin” in small letters below this. There are two colorful Indian elephants standing “rampant” either side of the label facing away to the east and west of the bottle. The neck of the bottle is festooned with a red and gold braided cord, adding to the Indian feeling of the design. These graphics were created by Sonia Castillo, whilst at RD2 Graphics and Communication, and now a freelance Graphic Designer based in Madrid, Spain.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

42.5% (85 Proof) in Spain and 40% (80 Proof) in the UK.

Price Range

$$$$ - $$$$$. Not available in the USA. Try Master of Malt in the UK but prepare to pay an additional 60% for shipping.

Botanicals

Made using 10 botanicals including: angelica (Germany), cardamom (India), coriander seeds (Morocco), cubeb berries (Indonesia), cumin (Turkey), ginger (India), grapefruit peel (Turkey), juniper berries (Italy), orange peel (Spain) and pepper (Black Tellicherry from India).

Name

Opihr (pronounced “o-peer”) is an ancient place (referred to in the Bible) whose location has been “lost” over time. Thought to be as widely located as the Philippines to Africa, many reports have it as being a port in a region of India called Kerala, a key hub on the ancient “Spice Route”. Opihr was renowned for having great wealth and is believed to have sent a cargo (consisting of gold, silver, precious stones, exotic animals (e.g. apes, peacocks etc.), ivory and exotic spices & botanicals) to King Solomon every few years.

The long ancient Spice Route spanned thousands of miles, enabling merchants to successfully trade spices, herbs and other goods in relative safety and to good profit. It originated in the Maluku Islands (known as the Spice Islands) in Indonesia and crossed parts of Asia and Africa before ending in the Mediterranean in Southern Europe. From the 1200’s to the 1500’s the main destination was Venice, Italy – interestingly this city’s geographical latitude is 42.5 degrees, which matches the ABV of this Gin. Following the birth of the East India Company in the 1600’s the most dominate end destination of the Spice Route became London, UK and at its furthest reach, Amsterdam, Holland in Northern Europe.

Gin is mostly about the botanicals used to give it flavor, naming this spirit after a “lost” part of the Spice Route and flavoring it with spices seems only apposite.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is (lightly sweet) spice (cardamom, coriander, cumin & pepper) with citrus and faint juniper notes. On the palate is developing hot spice with light juniper and bright lemony citrus (coriander) plus a faint earthiness. On the close the spice continues but with more citrus and juniper with faint herbal hints in a long warm dry finish. A boldly spiced Gin, using strong coriander, but without being overly so.

Although labeled as a London Dry Gin, the juniper is certainly not dominant and it is perhaps better described as a spiced New Western Dry. However, this is a fairly good sipping Gin (with - in a good way - more rough than smooth characteristics) and it is easy to find yourself reposing on a chilly evening with a cigar in one hand and a glass of Opihr on the rocks in the other.

This makes a spicy Gin and Tonic (try a ratio of 3:1), and although not to everyone’s taste, there are a variety of garnishes one could try: basil leaf, cilantro/coriander leaf, chilli pepper (sliced or whole), cloves, cucumber, ginger, grapefruit, lime, orange etc. In a Martini we found this to be too spicy, although some may really enjoy this, and we suspect this would be the same situation with a Negroni. Where this did really shine was in a Gimlet, with the lime elevating the Gin very nicely. Although not tried by us yet, we believe the following mixed drinks would also make good choices with this Gin: Red Snapper (a Bloody Mary with the Vodka replaced by Gin); a Gin & ginger ale; or a Gin & orange.

Overall, this is best for people who like hot spicy drinks, or for those wishing to try them. It is a hard Gin to mix but in the rights drinks it certainly hits the spot, and for us we liked it best of all when taken neat. This is easily paired as an aperitif, prior to Indian or Thai cuisine.

Awards & Accolades

Gold Medal, Gin Masters, 2015.



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