Bombay Sapphire Goes (Farther) East

It may seem a tad redundant for a spirit already named after a city in India to an invent a line extension called East, but Bombay Sapphire’s first new gin in 25 years—Bombay Sapphire East—was christened not for geographical location, but for the addition of flavors associated with Asia.

When we heard the term “East” connected to this gin we were expecting some overt note such as ginger to take it to the Orient. Happily, that did not happen. The product is much more subtle than that. In this latest release, Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns join the 10 botanicals already listed on the standard Bombay gins. The result is similar to the original, with an extra blast of spice and citrus and a more perfumed nose. The dialed-back-juniper profile of Bombay remains, but the added flavor injects a zest that seems tailored to stand up in such mixed drinks as the Tom Collins and Gin and Tonic.

As with all Bombay products, the additional flavors are vapor infused, using a Carterhead still within which a mesh basket contains the herbs and spices used for flavoring. (Gin is essentially a neutral grain spirit flavored with aromatics that are dominated by juniper. The flavoring can be infused during distillation—as with Bombay—or simply added later on—as with compound gin.)

While the company claims a proprietary recipe handed down from the 18th century, it takes the unconventional tack of revealing the ingredients of that formula on its bottle. The other aromatics in Bombay Sapphire are juniper berries, almond, lemon peel, licorice, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise. Sapphire itself, introduced in 1987, was a line extension of the Bombay Original Dry, when the cubeb and grains of paradise were added to recipe.

While the name might suggest that this gin comes from the East, it is made in England and classified as a London Dry Gin. It gets its moniker from its popularity in British colonies, particularly India during the days of the Raj.

Bombay Sapphire East (94 proof or 47 percent alcohol by volume, $22.99)


NOSE: The added citrus is the big change on the nose, although it isn’t a straight-ahead lemon, but adds hints of Mandarin orange as well. It is also a bit perfumy, as might be assumed since lemongrass is widely used in ingredients in fragrances.

PALATE: The added pepper comes on in the mouth, joined with a bit of bread dough. You’ll likely also taste licorice and coriander.

FINISH: The citrus from the nose lingers on the medium-length finish.

"Banging my own drum here a little but Fellow Productions recently completed the commercial for Bombay Sapphire East now trialling in US cinemas. We spent 10 gruelling days in Vietnam and Thailand but a thing of real beauty just like the gin. " —December 6, 2011 14:10 PM