In one of her films Mae West is credited for saying, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” I cautiously agree.  I recently received a bottle of Bombay Sapphire East Gin, the latest addition to the Bombay line of gins in the past 25 years (what took you guys so long?) and noticed that the ingredients have gone up to 12 botanicals.  12 botanicals, you have got to be kidding me that just might be too much of a good thing!

Of course, the main botanical in any gin is juniper berries and that’s what gives it that signature “ginny” taste.  The other ingredients in this infusion or I might conclude confusion of botanicals should give it more depth and complexity.  That being true, this should be one deep and complex gin.

Bombay Sapphire East Gin contains; juniper berries from Italy, grains of paradise from West Africa, lemon peel from Spain, cubeb berries from Java, coriander seeds from Morocco, cassia bark from Indo China, anjelica root from Saxony, almonds from Spain, iris root from Italy, liquorice from China and then to give it that “East” touch they added lemongrass from Thailand and black peppercorns from Vietnam. Honestly, now I have no idea what cubeb or grains of paradise or cassia bark even taste like alone.  Do you?

Most gin producers will steep or macerate their botanicals in the neutral spirit before distilling.  Instead, Bombay uses a perforated copper botanical basket hung in the still through which the vapors from the distilling neutral spirit must pass through during the distillation process.  That’s quite an intriguing procedure.

Well let’s get to it; I can’t wait to see what this is all about. Right in the bottle the aroma is juniper berry forward and bold followed by lemon, liqourice and almonds and that’s quite a noseful and yet it is beautifully balanced and very appealing. In the snifter, the juniper recedes and gives way to the lemon, liquorice, and pepper.

On the palate, the pepper and liquorice take the lead followed by the juniper and lemon.  I can actually discern the two types of lemon, both the peel and the grass.  It is quite noticeably spicy and peppery and leaves a definite tingle on the tongue and in the mouth. I rather like this merry go round of tastes exchanging places as they dance their dance.

The finish is surprisingly smooth considering all the pepper and spice that preceded my actually swallowing some. 

In a Gin and Tonic, all these flavors finally settle down and play nice with each other.  Juniper berries come forward again and the lemons become complimentary rather than acutely citrusy.  The pepper falls to the background and calms down nicely.  All the other flavors finally surrender the depth and complexity I was expecting that I could not perceive when I tasted it straight up because four dominating flavors competed against each other for the lead.  I think I might like to be able to discern more of these ingredients individually but they do seem to blend well together. 

This is definitely not your granddaddies Gin but it could be yours if you’re into bold flavor, spiciness and a citrus zing.  It is 84 proof and 750 ml to 1 liter bottles can be purchased for between $22-$35.

By George Brozowski