During a recent trip to London for a work summer party, I drank a ruinous quantity of Bombay Sapphire gin. The venue was Brick Lane and the end-result was not a single bottle of Bombay Sapphire left on sale in the off licenses of the area (I did have help).
We started around 16:00 while waiting to get our faces painted. People suddenly became interested when I produced a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, some tonic, three limes and a pen-knife – we eventually set up out own little gin palace on the roof-terrace of the Atlantis Building which had a steady stream of visitors seeking refuge from the standard offering of wine and beer being served and begging glasses of G&T all through the night.
I had to keep nipping out for more bottles and eventually emptied the off licenses of Brick Lane completely of Bombay Sapphire (no mean feat). In the end we resorted to buying Beefeater (which I was too drunk to appreciate at the time, so will not be sharing any insights on that front).
The party ended when the police came around to close the venue due to public complaints and we had to decamp back to the hotel to continue the gin-drinking marathon (this was also the location of the backup bottle of Greenall’s).
Short of having to make polite conversation with some people I would rather have avoided, I had a grand night out and showed a whole bunch of Londoners how partying is really done (the Scots seemed to have a pretty good grasp already).
Anyway, on with the review.
Bombay Sapphire was one of my mainstay gins for over a year. I found it pleasant enough and a lot of people had told me how good it was. It was also one of the gins that lead me to the discovery of gin & tonic in the first place. However, revisiting the Sapphire after exposing my palette to such a wide range of gin has given me a new perspective on it.
Bombay Sapphire lists all 10 botanicals on the bottle and is reputed to be based on a “secret” gin recipe dating back to 1761. These botanicals are…
Grains of paradise
The botanicals are steam infused rather than being boiled which preserves a higher degree of flavours from the botanicals and is produced by Greenall’s, under contract from Bacardi.
Alone, Bombay Sapphire is a fresh and subtle gin with citrus and a gentle spiciness coming through. It is a slightly oily gin with only a hint of juniper.
Bombay Sapphire is what many call a vodka-gin and is not a gin that is oozing strength and character. It is pleasant enough, but it is not a big juniper carrier like Juniper Green and left me slightly disappointed.
With tonic it is pleasing with bog-standard tonic water, but I imagine a lot of its qualities would be lost to a more powerful tonic like the Fever-Tree.
So, while Bombay Sapphire may not find a place in my drinks cabinet in the long term, it will likely visit from time-to-time and certainly be the gin of choice in pubs; Gordon’s is the mainstay, but Sapphire is probably the second-most common in drinking establishments.