Bombay Sapphire, a beacon of modern gin innovation, emerged in 1986, introducing a novel approach to gin making. It’s a symphony of botanicals and distillation artistry, orchestrated by the Bombay Spirits Co., Ltd., and distributed by Bacardi. This clear, English gin has a twin identity in its alcohol content: a milder 40% in several countries and a robust 47% for the US and duty-free markets.
At its core, Bombay Sapphire whispers a tale of ten botanicals. Almond’s nuttiness, the zest of lemon peel, the sweet earthiness of liquorice, and the piney heart of juniper berries create a complex introduction. Orris root, angelica, and coriander add depth, while cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise bring a spicy warmth. This intricate blend is caressed by alcohol vapors in a carterhead still, resulting in a lighter, more floral gin compared to its copper pot-stilled kin.
The first encounter with Bombay Sapphire is a dance of aromas – a citrus lead of acidic lemon intertwined with a subtle alcohol presence, and a juniper chorus. This olfactory ballet is adorned with a floral-fruity backdrop, distinct in its brightness and aromatic intensity.
On the palate, Bombay Sapphire is an enigma – an oily thickness that gently coats the tongue, unfurling its flavors with a deliberate pace. It starts demure, almost shy, with the heat and spiciness of lemon slowly emerging, adorned with earthy floral undertones. The juniper, often the star, here takes a graceful step back, shining in the final act at the back of the palate. The finale is a lingering one, harmonious notes of heat, coriander, juniper, and citrus closing the show.
In the Glass of Connoisseurs:
Where Bombay Sapphire truly excels is in its mixability. It’s a chameleon in the world of cocktails, particularly shining in a Gin and Tonic and a Martini. In the former, it brings a subtle citrus note, a juniper presence that’s present but not overbearing, creating a supremely balanced drink. It’s an inviting gateway into the world of gin and tonics.
The Martini is where Bombay Sapphire finds its magnum opus. Here, the gin’s restraint is not just a tactic but an art form, allowing it to complement and harmonize with Vermouth. The citrus and soft juniper notes play well with various vermouths, highlighting the gin’s versatility and balanced character.
Bombay Sapphire stands as a restrained, proto-contemporary gin, great for those who prefer their spirits to whisper rather than shout. It’s a gin that does many things well, but perhaps few things outstandingly. Nonetheless, its impact on the gin world is undeniable, popularizing a style of gin that appeals to a broader palate, previously uncharted in the gin universe.
The USP of Bombay Sapphire is its distinctive blend of ten botanicals and the unique carterhead distillation process. This method imparts a lighter, more floral character, setting it apart from traditional London Dry gins. Its versatility across various cocktails, particularly in a balanced Gin and Tonic or Martini, secures its position as a favorite among diverse gin enthusiasts.