Review – Bloom London Dry Gin
Juniper, the defining ingredient of gin is both the reason why gin enthusiasts love the spirit, but unfortunately also why many non-enthusiasts are so. The production of the less juniper-forward gins that can appeal to a broad range of the market is therefore an understandably attractive idea.
Bloom is produced by Britain’s second largest gin distillery, G&J Distillers who produce a raft of different gins alongside their own brands Greenall’s, Bloom and Berkley Square. Bloom is triple-distilled using honeysuckle, pomelo and chamomile in addition to the more ‘standard’ botanicals of juniper, angelica, and cubeb berries.
Neat: In line with the intention to create a lighter gin, the juniper is delicately balanced so as to offer just enough to be firmly evident as a gin, but without alienating those whose palate seeks refuge from this bold flavour. The floral elements are the characteristic element, and although they never quite hit a parma violet sort of intensity, they certainly make themselves known. This is further enhanced by this being a relatively sweet gin, which might be too much were it not for a delicate spice in the background and the moderate citrus note. As with the nose, complexity of flavour is not the winning feature of this gin but it is definitely one of the more enjoyable ‘light’ gins.
Mixing: Lighter and floral gins can make for a more challenging ingredient to mix with and consideration needs to be given to what is hoped to be achieved. A Negroni for example is pleasingly light and refreshing as the gin gives way to the bold flavours of the other ingredients, whereas a Last Word ends up too floral and lacking in backbone. Whether or not this makes for a successful Gin and Tonic will largely depend on personal taste, and although it wouldn’t be the first gin I would reach for, I do rather like it in a Tom Collins where the soda water makes the best use of the flavour profile. Spirits of a floral nature always make me reach for the honey syrup as a partner and with it perhaps the most enjoyable drink of my experimentations, the Lonsdale.
Signature Cocktail – The Lonsdale
2oz Bloom Gin, 0.5oz honey syrup, 3 torn basil leaves, 0.75oz lemon juice, 2.5oz apple juice
Shake ingredients with ice and strain over ice into a highball glass. Garnish with a basil leave and apple slice
Neat: Not as impressive as the nose, but perfectly sippable. Sloe syrup upfront together with dried orchard fruits and a slightly ‘tight’ finish which brings in cinnamon and a little peppery spice, a touch of the bitter metallic about it too.
Mixing: Sloe Bloom performs much better as a mixer than as a sipper,the dilution cocktails bring helping to open up the flavours significantly. Long drinks such as the Hedgerow Sling counter the spicy and bitter elements to result in a lovely refreshing drink that has just the right amount of complexity. These characteristics meanwhile make shorter drinks such as the gin, sloe gin and sweet vermouth-based Blackthorn English a little too dry, being more suited to a fruiter and sweeter style of sloe gin. The signature Sloe Bloom Winter Garden (recipe below) introduces these fruity elements via triple sec, cranberry juice, lime and grenadine and showcase this spirit at its best. Similar success is found in the apple and grape-hinted Grape Delight, and it is on this track that Sloe Bloom is best used for the sour-style of drinks is another area where the juxtaposition between sweet and bitter falls out of balance. The classic grapefruit-focused Wibble for example is just too much for the palate, despite this being an oftentimes successful flavour combination.
Signature Cocktail – Sloe Bloom Winter Garden
50ml Sloe Bloom, 20ml Triple Sec, 20ml Lime Juice, 40ml Cranberry Juice, 5ml Grenadine
Shake ingredients with ice and strain over ice into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Bloom Strawberry Cup
Nose: Deep aromas of over-ripe strawberries combined with an undefinable earthiness and a touch of vanilla and juniper. Jammy and inviting.
Neat: Hugely disappointing. The flavour combination of bruised strawberries, pepper and lemon are unappealing and over-stewed. This lacks the freshness of flavour that should be its highlight; a critical failure given the strength of the competition from other gin brands.
Mixing: The recommended simple serves with lemonade or other fizzy things such as tonic or Prosecco serve only to lengthen the undesirable bruised strawberry flavours. Citrus is the saving grace thus when mixing, meaning cocktails such as the Foxy Lady are reasonably quaffable. Unsurprisingly, this fruit cup is not a decent replacement for strawberry liqueurs, such as the Strawberry Fields Forever, although somehow rum works as a friend, and the Jayne Mansfield (with a little extra sugar) is also drinkable. Stick with the rum theme, add cream and the Wimbledon Martini is probably the best you’ll do if you happen to have found yourself with a bottle.
Bloom is a gin that sits at the light and floral end of the flavour scale and as such offers broad appeal. What it lacks in bold ginny flavour is makes up for in delivering a fresh-tasting and easy-drinking experience that works well in long refreshing cocktails. Sloe Bloom meanwhile offers up a respectable example of a mixing sloe gin, quite quaffable in long drinks but with a somewhat bitter and spicy finish. The strawberry cup is best avoided.
Rating: ★★★ (Bloom and Sloe Bloom) ★★ (Bloom Strawberry Cup)
Bloom Gin is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.