Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
For me, as I sit here typing in cold, damp and windy England in mid-winter, this poem by John Masefield sums up exactly my feelings from a first taste of Opihr Oriental Spiced, London Dry Gin: these words might well be about maritime history, but they took me to an exotic place – Ophir – and that’s what this gin is – exotic.
Okay, I might be stretching it a bit; the biblical, Old Testament port of Ophir is spelt very slightly differently to the gin, Opihr, but the spirit’s roots are as equally exotic and romantic, in that its heritage is firmly linked to the ancient Spice Route. Both claim their roots are derived from the mysterious seaport, the location of which is yet to be discovered; it is from there the legendary King Solomon received vast cargoes of gold, silver and spices.
Indeed, this 40% ABV spirit contains cubeb berries from Indonesia; black pepper from India and coriander from Morocco – these exotic botanicals then wend their way back to Blighty to one of our oldest distilleries, probably via a “British coaster with a salt-caked stack … Butting through the Channel.” Although these days, more likely in a Maersk shipping container on board a gigantic, diesel-powered cargo ship.
Nevertheless, this gin transported me to a special place; I loved its soft spiciness coupled with the distinctness of a London Dry Gin, backed up by citrus bursts. The background notes are of cumin and cardamom, along with grapefruit; while the taste of the oriental spices create warmth in the mouth. The finish, which I love, is of black pepper and spice.
We tried Opihr with Indian tonic water and grapefruit wedges. Fever Tree recommends serving it with its Aromatic Tonic Water, garnished with orange – or Ginger Ale and orange as an alternative serve; this gin is equally enjoyable, and very warming, sipped neat.
“Would I buy this gin again, which was first distilled in 1761? – A resounding “Yes!” is your answer.”