The gin drinker uncorks his new bottle for a first pour. As he begins to unravel the delicate tastes and aromas in the glass, he opens a browser window to see what the buzz is about. He scans the first few links and his eyes widen in horror.
"Wait a minute!" he roars to no one in particular. "This stuff's for ladies!"
I mean, the signs are all there. The gin was formulated to be appealing to female drinkers through its botanical choices and soft, floral presence. There are the partnerships with perfumeries and fashion houses. In Britain, they combined the gin with a promotion for a free bouquet of flowers. But even if you knew nothing about all that, let's be honest: what did you really think that pretty turquoise and damask on the bottle meant?
Kidding aside, and looking past the branding, I was more interested in the taste they wanted to bring to market. While not quite a "New American" gin (not least because of it being made in England), Bloom is gunning for a similar approach: dial back the juniper and let the other botanicals take center stage. Master distiller Joanne Moore chose some fairly non-traditional ingredients like pomelo, honeysuckle, and chamomile in order to create a unique profile. A noble mission, I think, and one that was certainly interesting enough for me to part with my money to taste the outcome. Even for a whiskey drinkin', loud cussin' kind of man like me.
So the good: Bloom is soft and approachable with ample depth. I most appreciated Bloom's arrival of spun-honey sweetness before the floral elements open up. The chamomile works harder than you'd expect here, and overall there's a pleasantly bitter taste that's reminiscent of a nice cup of hot tea. This is a very, very far cry from that prototypical sensation of being whipped in the face with a branch full of pine needles.
All that said, the aroma begins to tell the darker side of where Bloom splits the difference between a vodka and a gin. Firstly, I can't actually smell all that much. There may be some vague tea smells that emanate from the glass, but if I really stuck my nose in there it was hard for me to get past the shock of alcohol. More troubling, if I smell some roughness, there's usually some roughness that creeps into the taste.
And sure enough, there it was with Bloom. While the delicacy is nice, there's a boozy shock in the finish at odds with both the 80-proof strength and the soft, sweet flavors. A cynic might suggest the harshness indicates some cracks in this bottle's facade—perhaps a good portion of the MSRP went into marketing while the quality of the distillate became a reduced priority. Speculation on my part, but when the website doesn't tell me anything substantive about the production methods, my mind wanders to bad places.
Really, I think the packaging and branding is successful. And if more people start drinking gin because of Bloom, I'm all for it. The world is definitely big enough for pretty gins that aren't all juniper heavyweights. Here, I just wasn't smitten—and I can assure you, being of the wrong target gender had nothing to do with it. The price further pushes this into the realm of a one-and-done experience.