Bombay Sapphire

If an evening of boozy gin cocktails wasn’t enough to persuade me to write about them, the generous gift fairies at Bombay Sapphire also supplied me with a blue bottle of Bombay. And not just any a bottle. They gave me one with my name etched into it.

It’s the most thrilling thing I’ve ever received. I’m completely enchanted by it and give the bottle a pat and a stroke every time I walk past the shelf where it majestically sits, surrounded by votive candles and offerings (currently just scatterings from my kitchen cupboards, but it won’t be long before I start sacrificing chickens to the God Of Personalised ). I’m utterly in love.

And it’s appropriate my first personal gin bottle is Bombay Sapphire, as it was the first gin I ever made a conscious decision to drink.

I became a gin drinker at 18 out of sheer contrariness – everyone else drank vodka, or whisky if they were feeling grand. Gin was the stuff maiden aunts and dusty, neglected drinks cabinets were made of. These days all my friends drink G&Ts, but at the time it was a lonely furrow and I ploughed it with whatever was available – Gordon’s in pubs, supermarket own brands at home.

Bombay sapphire close up

After graduating and getting a job, I wanted to dignify my transition to adulthood with something more than the cheap pinstripe suit and regular morning chant of: “A cappuccino and a croissant, please” that marked my working days.

So I decided to upgrade my gin. Anyone could drink Gordon’s – a green bottle of it squatted in every pub in the country – but Bombay Sapphire was more exotic and harder to find. Ordering a Bombay Sapphire and tonic was much more sophisticated and very urbane. “How worldly wise,” the barman would think. How grown up, how refined.

It fuelled my first knock-kneed steps into maturity and I have a lot of nostalgic affection for it. But I’m laying my misty-eyed memories aside and putting Bombay Sapphire to the test. Fingers crossed it doesn’t break my fragile, old woman’s heart.

Day or night gin? It’s 40%, which puts it comfortably in the evening drinking slot. Maybe after work with your exciting new colleagues, while you eat crisps instead of a proper dinner and argue about whether this new ‘Internet’ thing will take off. (I insisted it wouldn’t, which shows how reliable my opinions are.)

What does it smell of? If ever there was a nail polish remover called Arctic Flower, it would smell like this. Cool and fruity, there’s a sweet hit from the marmaladish lemon peel and a whiff of spices, too – juniper and coriander. It mostly reminds me of cold water swimming. If you went to a lido and jumped in wearing the contents of your spice rack instead of a bathing suit, your experience wouldn’t be dissimilar to sniffing an open bottle of Bombay.

How does it taste? What a soft, caressing gin this is. I can see why it was my next step on the gin ladder after the rough love of Gordon’s. Very smooth and mild at the first sip, it has a citrusy sting and a lingering woody flavour. It’s a bit like chewing fragrant bark without the embarrassing bits that get stuck in your teeth (what? Who hasn’t looked at a silver birch and thought it’d be worth taking a bite?). The aftertaste is peppery and warm.

Buy it? Easy to find and priced between £15 and £20 (Davy’s has it for £15.95), I’d call this a banker of a gin. It’s not too tricky, no difficult flavours or harsh, runaway scraps of alcohol to deal with. I suspect I’d find it slightly dull in my G&T but I had a negroni made with Bombay Sapphire and was astonished to find myself liking it. Negronis are generally endured rather than enjoyed, but the sweetness of Bombay balanced out the campari and made it almost nice. If only for making negronis pleasurable, it’s earned its place on my shelf.

Tagged with: Gin

13 Responses to Gin tasting: Bombay Sapphire

  1. chloe says:

    I dream of a bottle of gin with my name on it…..

  2. Oh my god how cool! Bombay Sapphire is my gin of choice at home partly because I love the bottle. Such a great, classic design I always feel sophisticated drinking it!

  3. You have your OWN gin! how cool is this!

  4. SN 2 says:

    This is possibly the coolest thing I have ever heard and makes me forgive Bombay Sapphire a little bit after spending most of my late teens learning the 10 ‘botanical ingredients’ in their gin, for the smattering of ‘trendy’ cocktail bars I worked in during uni!

    Juniper berries, Lemon peel, Liquorice, Almonds, Orris root, Coriander, Cassia bark, Cubeb berries, Grains of Paradise and Angelica….just in case you wondered – can’t remember any of my degree but this I can remember! It’s like we are related or something!

  5. Lucky you.For a long time I thought the Bombay itself was blue.
    Did you try it with Bombay Mix?

  6. Di says:

    I was once told years ago that Bombay Sapphire is a “martini gin”, as opposed to a “gin and tonic” gin, as it is too smooth to taste much of over the tonic. I think maybe we need to create a new category of “negroni gin” (even if, for me, any gin is a negroni gin).

    As for this: “It’s the most thrilling thing I’ve ever received.” While undoubtedly a personalised bottle of gin is EXTREMELY thrilling, aren’t you forgetting the TravelJohn *grumpy face*?

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      I still have my TravelJohn! It’s ready to go, if ever I get stuck at a border crossing, desert, mountain range or anywhere there’s no bathroom but a full bladder. Grateful to be so regularly equipped.

  7. ginandcrumpets says:

    @chloe, @Gourmet Chick, @Ute@hungryinLondon It is totally cool! I love it. Love it to pieces.

    @SN2 Haha, impressed you can remember it straight off the top of your head like that. The degree was clearly not a waste of time.

    @NorthernSnippet When we were tweeting about Bombay Mix I was eating it with cockatils made from Bombay sapphire, so in a way, yes I did match it. Perfect combo.

  8. oxfordfood says:

    How dare you slur the good name of campari! A gin bottle with your name on it though, that is awesome.

  9. Oooh you lucky thing. Bombay Sapphire and tonic is the best drink in the world!

  10. Oooh you lucky thing. The best drink ever is Bombay Sapphire & tonic!

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