The most recent gins harping on about their botanicals have been using fairly British botanicals - the herby, wet English garden type that remind me of rainy afternoons where we're huddled in the cricket pavilion, waiting for the skies to clear so that the match can start up again. Opihr's botanicals are entirely Eastern, all hot and dusty, with a sizeable hit of cardamon along with the black pepper and coriander. There's something crisp about it too, despite all that warmth. I found it particularly smooth when chilled to ice-cold, and although it's unusual flavours can cause momentary confusion, it's still umistakeably gin. The juniper is quite discernible, but at perhaps much more a subtle level than in other gins where it confronts you head on.
One of the recommended accompaniments to Opihr is a fresh chili, but I think that would be piling heat upon heat, and I would personally suggest you return to that now socially-unacceptable gin garnish of a slice of lemon - the citrus cuts through all that warmth from the spices, and is really quite the complimentary partner to the black pepper and coriander. I've also heard the suggestion of a slice of orange, or a stick of cinnamon and I could see those working well too.
I can't usually tolerate gin neat, but this is such an unusual gin that I found it most pleasant and warming for sipping. In a gin martini, I found Opihr to work fantastically with a lemon twist and a good extra dry vermouth. It even passed the non-gin-drinker test - a sip from my husband-to-be usually results in a face full of disgust at any gin-based drinks, but on trying my Opihr martini, the face was one of curiosity, with a 'not bad' comment.
Opihr gin is going to be controversial for straying so far from its very British relatives, and it's true that it's not for the faint of heart - if you're a gin adventurer though, you may find this to be a real treat. For the gin lover, the fantastically ornate bottle would also make a superb present. I have plans for that tassel when I've finished the bottle.
Opihr is available from all good supermarkets at around £22 (currently on offer at Tesco for £18). I selflessly purchased this bottle and drank it almost entirely to ensure I could give a well-researched review for you dear readers.