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Review

Bombay Sapphire East Gin

Distillery

Made by G & J Greenall International, Risley, Warrington, England, UK on behalf of Bombay Spirits Co. Ltd. (Bacardi Ltd) and distributed by Barcardi USA, Coral Gables, Florida.

Website

G & J Greenall, Barcardi Ltd and Bacardi USA.

History

Established back in 1761, Greenall’s are the oldest continuously producing London Dry Gin distillery in the world. Thomas Dakin built the distillery initially, Edward Greenall started using it and in 1870 it was purchased completely (The G&J comes from Edward’s younger brothers – Gilbert & John). The previous chairman, Lord Daresbury, was a direct descendent of Edward Greenall. The family motto “Alto Peto” translates as "I Strive Higher". This once cottage based industry is now the second largest gin distillery in Britain, producing over 50% of the UK’s Gin and almost 15% of the world’s Gin. In 2011 the business was bought by Quintessential Brands.

Barcardi was founded in 1862 by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó in Cuba and today is run by Facundo L. Bacardi since 2005. He is the great-great grandson of the company’s founder and a fifth generation family member. Famous for their white colored Barcardi Rum they have gone from strength to strength (despite having had their production plant illegally confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960) and have grown by acquisition across the years.

Bacardi is the third largest spirits company in the world, as well as the world's largest, privately held Spirits Company. The company sells over 200 brands, in more than 150 markets and operates 27 production facilities (for bottling, distilling and manufacturing) in 16 countries. It is headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda.  

Bombay was originally created by Thomas Dakin back in 1761 and called Warrington Gin. In the 1950’s it was relaunched and renamed Bombay Dry Gin by Alain Subin. In the 1980’s Michel Roux experimented with the recipe to create Bombay Sapphire, and Bombay Dry became known as Bombay Original. Bombay Sapphire was launched in 1987 and was acquired by Bacardi in 1998 (along with Dewar’s Whisky and Bombay Original Gin). In 2011 Bacardi launched this new version, created by their Master of Botanicals Ivano Tonutti, it has 2 more botanicals and is called Bombay Sapphire East.

Production

The Gin is made the same way as Bombay Sapphire (the same way since 1761) with twelve botanicals being vapor infused during the 3rd and final distillation, using rare Carterhead stills. There is a picture of Queen Victoria set on a background of a Sapphire on the label reflecting the: British heritage and the popularity of Gin during Victorian times and the “Star of Bombay” Sapphire – see “Name” below. There are few changes to the bottle: the addition of the word East, the additional botanicals added etc. All we want to know now is what does the Chinese style character on the label mean? If anyone knows, please get in touch and share it with us.

The Gin is sold in a blue sapphire film covered bottle and many wrongly believe it to be blue coloured - in reality it is a clear liquid. The final distillate is blended with water from Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales, UK (near Snowdonia). Interestingly, the lake was created by the building of a gothic style dam in the 1880’s (the first of its kind in the world) to supply Liverpool and Merseyside with water, which it does by way of a 68-mile long aqueduct.

Barcardi are moving the production of Bombay in-house and are currently establishing facilities in the village of Laverstoke, Hampshire, UK for this express purpose. Laverstoke Mill is set to open on 1st October 2014 and the distillery will include a visitors centre with tours, bar, café and shop. Obviously we are disappointed for Greenall’s loss but also excited and impatient to visit Bombay’s new home. Nik Fordham, previously at Chivas Brothers (Beefeater Gin), has been appointed Master Distiller for Bombay at Laverstoke. A digitally produced tour of Laverstoke Mill can be seen on YouTube plus further details can be found on the Laverstoke Mill website.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

42% (84 Proof).

Price Range

$$ - $$$. Available online at: More Wines, Beltramo’s Wine and Spirits and Liquor Barn.

Botanicals

The 12 Botanicals are similar to the 10 found in Bombay Sapphire Gin; the two additions being black peppercorns and lemongrass. Thus the 12 botanicals are: almond (Spain), angelica root (Saxony), black peppercorns (Vietnam), cassia bark (Indo-China), coriander seeds (Morocco), cubeb berries (Java), grains of paradise (Africa), juniper berries (Italy), lemongrass (Thailand), lemon peel (Spain), liquorice (China) and orris root (Italy).

Name

Bombay, called Mumbai since 1995, is on the West coast of India and is the capital of the Indian State of Maharashtra. Originally in the 1500’s this was a settlement by the Portuguese who called it “Born Baim” meaning “Good little bay. In the 1600’s the British gained possession of the city (comprised of 7 different islands) and the name was anglicised to “Bombay”. Using the name for this Gin is a salute to the popularity of Gin with the British Raj in India during their period of colonial rule.

The Sapphire part of the name was inspired by the 182-carat sapphire found in Sri Lanka and called the "Star of Bombay". Famous actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. bought it as a gift for his wife movie actress, Mary Pickford. She bequeathed it to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC in 1981.

With the two additional botanicals being sourced from the East, it was a reasonably natural progression to use “East” in the name.

Tasting Notes

This has the same taste as Bombay Sapphire, except there is more lemon (slightly different profile) and greater peppery spice. On the nose there are more floral notes. On the palate it leads with the pepper and this either makes the juniper more pronounced or they have increased the amount of juniper in the botanical mix also. The lemon comes next with 2 distinct flavor profiles (one, the lemongrass, almost borders on a mandarin/tangerine taste), and finally the pepper spice taste returns in the finish.

Whilst this is enjoyable in all Gin based cocktails (i.e. it keeps the versatility of Bombay Sapphire), it seems slightly better than Bombay Sapphire in a Martini (and a Dirty Martini), Negroni and a Tom Collins. This is likely to please full-blown Gin lovers more than Bombay Sapphire. Interestingly, it has been developed to counter the higher sweetness of American tonic water (due to the corn fructose syrup, which is not found in European tonic) and this we believe it does successfully to make a nicer Gin & Tonic.

For some, Bombay Sapphire East may be disappointing in it’s delivery – more punch rather than mild. Whilst for others it may be more pleasing because it gives a slightly harder kick and takes a step away from their bland view of Bombay Sapphire. However, we suspect we will find, most people who like Bombay Sapphire will also like Bombay Sapphire East as the change is not that different!

Awards & Accolades

Silver Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2013.

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2012.

Gold Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2012.



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