What does it take to be gin no. 001 in my collection? Bombay Sapphire isn’t the first gin I drank or the first bottle of gin I bought. Back in my early 20s when I was living in Indiana I was more of a Tanqueray drinker. I remember plenty of Tanqueray Tom Collins orders at the La Salle Grill. But despite those early inclinations, my gin of choice soon shifted.
By the time I moved to Boston in 2003, I had firmly settled on my drink, Sapphire and Tonic. At that point, it was the only gin I drank. Irish pubs, friends’ houses, the 99 Restaurant provided me a good number of them back then. But even as I started to build my collection, I never stopped drinking Sapphire. I still drink it regularly today. I like it because it is balanced. It has juniper, citrus, and floral notes, all in harmony. You can find it almost anywhere, so if I’m at a dive bar or a chain restaurant, I don’t bother seeing what gin they have, I just go back to my old standby.
Bombay Sapphire is one of the most popular gins in the world. In 2020 it trailed only Gordon’s. The brand, owned by Bacardi, sells more than four and half million cases a year. There’s a reason why it’s so popular. It’s good. And the “distinctive” blue bottle doesn’t hurt either. Bombay is good at brand management.
Unlike some gins who keep their botanical list a secret, Bombay Sapphire puts it right on the bottle. Almond, lemon peel, liquorice (their spelling), juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise are vapor infused to create their gin. The bottle here at the Lyceum is US strength, 94 proof, but they make it lighter, 80 proof, for the European market.
Bombay Sapphire isn’t my favorite gin, but it is always reliable. I have been drinking it for so long it has defined what gin should be for me. Even thought my collection focuses on small batch, hard to obtain gin, I still keep a bottle of Sapphire around. It’s never a bad choice.