Bombay Sapphire Sunset is the second special edition released by the renowned brand, featuring White Cardamom, Turmeric, and Mandarin Peel.
Price: ~ £24
Grains of Paradise
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for a while, you may remember my review of Star of Bombay, the brand’s premium offering. It’s one of my absolute favourite gins, and easily scored a full plume, but it may surprise you to know that I have not actually ever tried the regular Bombay Sapphire! This is their second special edition, after the English Estate (which I have also not tried!), and on this occasion the addition of white cardamom pretty much sold it for me. I’m a huge lover of cardamom (though in honesty I’d never heard of white cardamom, which I supposed intrigued me all the more!) and was interested to see how the turmeric was handled. Thus, as I was placing an order at a certain well known site anyway, this showed up at the right time to make it into my basket! Then I thought, why not review something new?! And here we are!
The bottle is the classic blue square shape with cut away corners, instantly recognisable as Bombay Sapphire. The only difference for the special editions is the label. Here, it is laid out almost identically to the original, but instead of a white label, the colours of the setting sun are cast across the centre, fading to blue at the top, and deep mauve at the bottom. Around the edge is a detailed metallic stencil in a floral, leafy design which is echoed over the entire label in fine texture that reflects the light (most visible in the pic at the top around the word ‘Bombay’). On the back is a label full of detailed legal info on measures and such, as well as a description of the inspiration behind the edition. It’s nice, but I’ll be honest I’m not entirely sold by the orange against the blue, particularly in the cap.
Mildly spiced mandarin peel is first to greet the senses, bringing with it a pleasantly earthy, floral note. The classic botanicals: angelica, coriander seed, and orris, are plain as day, along with a mild juniper that pervades. It’s got a bit of depth and is what I would describe as being a low, heavy aroma, by which I mean that to me it’s very much based in roots, spice, and earth, rather than bright citrus or floral tones for example. The almond is another fairly big hitter, and the rich, bitter notes of the peppers play their part well for me. I like it, and think it’s actually quite different from a lot of what I’m used to. There’s a slight caramel right at the end, but overall this to me is very earthy.
Neat, the gin is smooth and has a pleasant savoury, earthy flavour that fades slightly before a big kick of pepper, leaving quite the tingle on the tongue. I get a very bitter but slightly warm citrus that gives a sense of both dried and fresh peel, though I think the cubeb plays a big part here too. I get a slight sourness from the cardamom, but in honesty I don’t know how white cardamom differs to green or black. It’s still fairly classic in profile, but for me it’s definitely on the bitter, earthy end of the spectrum. This feels like quite a grown up gin, and one for those who like a dry, bitter punch to their spirit!
Water brings out an incredible amount of flavour, with lots of citrus coming through along with a more flavoursome spice notes. This is almost a different gin, and much improved for me, as though it has really come alive. The lemon comes through more, along with a robust, tangy pepper and warming touches of cassia. I still get earthy tones, but they’re warmer, sweeter, almost chocolatey. This is a fantastic improvement! That peppery finish is still quite something though!
Finally, a G&T (2:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic Water with a dried lemon wheel to granish). The result is a lovely combination of sweet but dry quinine and earthy but flavoursome gin. The citrus works well here, as do the peppery notes, giving the dryness and extra little kick. The mandarin peel does come through, and after a little time that dark chocolate flavour comes back, almost as an aftertaste but for me it is well defined, and delicious. It’s a classic G&T on the surface, but with a little contemplation there’s a lot to discover here.
Bombay Sapphire Sunset edition is a very interesting gin. It’s far more bitter and earthy than a lot of other gins out there for my tastes, but in that sense it creates a place for itself. As I’ve said, I’ve not tried the original, nor have I tried their first special edition (English Estate) but I could not be a bigger fan of Star of Bombay, and I thought this was worth a try! I am definitely glad I did. Based on the average price for a bottle of gin these days, this falls well below that, so if you’re a fan of earthy, bitter, peppery notes in your classic gin profile, this is well worth trying. I feel I must insist you try it with water though, before anything else!
Add/Remove half a feather depending on your predilection for bitter, earthy flavours.
Bombay Sapphire Sunset is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.