In our Bombay Sapphire gin review we find a gin that’s like a welcome old friend coming to stay (wearing a very nice coat that you’d like to own).
This may sound like an odd statement but, in our minds, we’ve always paired Bombay Sapphire Gin and Gordon’s Gin together. It’s a bit like Coca-Cola and Pepsi in that regard. For those of us of a certain vintage in the UK, if Gordon’s was the first gin you tried (like Coca-Cola was the first cola we all drank), then Bombay Sapphire was the second (like Pepsi). Bombay Sapphire was the young pretender in the cool light blue bottle.
We’ve already revisited Gordon’s Gin for a recent review, but how does Bombay Sapphire fare in this new world of explosive gin growth?
Bombay Sapphire Gin review
Unusually (almost uniquely), Bombay Sapphire still uses Carterhead stills in its distillation process. In fact, they have four stills at work: Tom and Mary (their original, refurbished, stills from the 1830s); and Victoria and Henry (two much newer additions). Victoria is named after Queen Victoria, who features on the bottle. Queen Victoria is the second longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom (beaten only by the current monarch, Elizabeth II).
Bombay Sapphire uses vapour distillation. As the name suggests, this distillation method sees vapour from the spirt pass through copper baskets of botanicals. It therefore picks up the fragrance from them on the way through them, rather than the process you see in many gins (which has the botanicals boiled with the spirit). It’s bottled at 40% ABV.
Speaking of botanicals, we have ten hard at work in Bombay Sapphire. Alongside the juniper, these range from grains of paradise (part of the ginger family, and quite like cardamom), cubeb berries and cassia bark, through to almonds, orris root, liquorice and lemon peel. The recipe actually dates back to 1761.
To taste, we found that it was the juniper and lemon/citrus that showed themselves first. There is a slightly peppery tone there too though (likely those grains of paradise are helping with that). The taste is extremely well balanced though. It’s also a testament to the craft of these Hampshire distillers that they are able to create and balance such a popular and consistent product using vapour distillation.
It’s possibly the ‘romance’ of the vapour distillation, but we were struck – having not tried Bombay Sapphire for some time – how nicely perfumed this gin is.
How to serve Bombay Sapphire
As a smooth and balanced gin, you can serve Bombay Sapphire in many ways. However, you simply can’t beat a gin and tonic. Our guide to making the perfect gin and tonic is the way to go here (in our humble opinion). Lemon or lime as a garnish works well with the light citrus flavours, but it’s a gin that will forgive experimentation.
For all its delicacy, we weren’t as taken with Bombay Sapphire neat. Lovely nose to it, but we think it works better with a good quality Indian tonic. Elderflower tonic also worked well when we tried it.
In conclusion, we’re glad we came back to our ‘gin Pepsi’. Just as with Gordon’s, we really enjoyed rediscovering a quality gin. It’s a fantastic, smooth and versatile all-rounder that deserves its place in gin royalty. And despite this, it remains excellent value too.
Buy Bombay Sapphire UK
As you might expect from a blockbuster gin [as you can see from this article, Bombay Sapphire is still the second biggest gin in the UK], Bombay Sapphire is widely available.
Or buy Bombay Sapphire miniatures from Amazon (link below is to a set of 12 x 5cl bottles).
Always just double-check quantities before you purchase on any website – some are clear when you’re getting single or multiple bottles, others less so!
Buy Bombay Sapphire US
Bombay Sapphire is popular and widely available in the US too. You can get it delivered within one hour in many areas from Drizly via this link.
What do you think of the iconic Bombay Sapphire? Tell us in the comments below, or email us at [email protected].