Bombay Spirits – Bacardi
Week one featured a unique gin, one that most people haven’t heard of let alone tried. For week two, I’m going to write about the second most popular gin in the world, Bombay Sapphire. I warned that you probably couldn’t find week one’s gin, but you can get Sapphire just about anywhere. That doesn’t mean it isn’t great. It is. For years it has been my go to gin when out somewhere with a basic gin list. In fact, sometimes I drink it even where there are more interesting gins available. If I was only going to be allowed to drink one gin for the rest of my life, there is no doubt I would pick Bombay Sapphire.
Sapphire was created in 1987 and purchased by Bacardi 1997. It comes in a “sapphire” colored bottle adorned with Queen Victoria’s face. I’ve seen 750 ml bottles for as little as twenty dollars, but for the most part they run about $25. It has a strong alcohol content in the US at 94 proof, but in Canada it’s a little weaker at 80 proof.
Bombay Sapphire is flavored with ten ingredients: juniper, lemon peel, coriander, angelica root, iris root, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, cassia bark, almonds, and liquorice. I don’t know what a few of those things are and I have no idea what cubeb berries taste like, and I’m guessing if you have a nut allergy you shouldn’t drink it. Because of this larger group of spices and botanicals, it rides the fence between the juniper-forward London and the more modern, less juniper-centric New Western styles. Together they make for a smooth, well-balanced gin regardless of style.
One of the most interesting things about Sapphire is that rather than adding the botanicals to the distilling liquid, they use a “vapor infusion process”. Essentially as they heat the liquid, the vapors travel through the flavorings. When the vapor cools back into liquid form, it now has the taste of the botanicals. According to the people at Bombay this is what sets their gin apart. I like the gin, so maybe they are right.
As for drinking, the best way to enjoy Sapphire is in the classic gin and tonic, though I know many people who like it in a martini as well. I think the ideal ratio for gin and tonic is normally 1 part gin to two parts tonic, but with this gin I feel that is just too weak. Trying a 2 parts gin to 3 parts tonic is pretty strong. You can go with a 3 to 5 ratio if you happen to have the blue bottle at home. (I wouldn’t ask for that at a bar, they probably won’t like you much.) Otherwise, as long as you like a strong drink, use plenty of ice and a healthy squeeze of lime and go with the 2 to 3 ratio.
If you are a gin drinker, you have probably tried Bombay Sapphire. I am probably not telling you much you don’t already know. If you aren’t a gin drinker, this is an easy place to start. Belly up to the bar and call for a “Sapphire and tonic”. There is very good chance they can make that for you and a pretty good chance you will enjoy it. Recommended
Gin # 002
Price about $25
G&T Ratio 2:3
Distillers notes: Our spirit of innovation and inspiration is not only embodied in our gin, but in our Master of Botanicals himself, Ivano Tonutti. Travelling to the four corners of the world, he’s developed personal relationships with each and every supplier, some going back decades. As Ivano himself says, this absolute attention to detail is “simply about maintaining the standard of care behind our gin”. Creating the finest gin possible takes the highest quality raw ingredients. We use up to 10 precious botanicals suspended above the spirit in perforated copper baskets during distillation. That way, as the heated spirit vapours rise, they’re gently infused with all the rich aromatic flavours our botanicals release. From the heat of our Moroccan cubeb berries to the spice of our West African Grains of Paradise, every one of our ten precious botanicals are chosen to bring their own special something to our gin. Uniquely distilled, they come together to give Bombay Sapphire its tantalising, smooth and complex taste.