Since Bombay Sapphire initiated the Return of the Gin in the late 80’s, many, many new gins have been launched. Especially the launch of Hendrick’s Gin in the late 90s marked the area of the new style gins, and also the more expensive (or, to speak in marketing terms, Super Premium brands). This all has lead to a shift in brand perception: good old Gordon’s was considered the standard of gins back in the days. After their launch in the late 80s, Bombay Sapphire became the new premiumstandard of gins but with all the new brands now on the market, this brand could be perceived as just a an average London Dry Gin. Which it isn’t.
The good folks at Bombay Sapphire have understood the shift of the market and reacted accordingly with the creation of Bombay Sapphire East. Ah yes, they could’ve opted for a Super Premium Bombay Sapphire, but instead they went for an extended version of the 1761 recipe, adding Lemon Grass and Peppercorns. And 2 % stonger in abv, which is really a world of difference, as many gin lovers will agree with me.
Especially this last element makes the new balance of the East very much and actually I needed to write that it’s 2 % less water. In the original Bombay Sapphire the light (citrus) and peppery notes account for respectively the first and aftertaste and the addition of lemongrass and peppercorn emphasize these flavours even more. Especially the nose is very heavy with these 2 botanicals, which, due to the vapour distillation is already quite strong with Bombay Sapphire.
East has been available for a longer time in several markets across the globe but it has been introduced to the Dutch market only recently. A special event for bartenders and press had been organized on 4 different locations around the city, each hosting a different speaker. Each one handled a specific topic, related to the history of the brand or to the production. The Global Brand Ambassador, Raj Nagra, welcomed the bartenders for a special session in which he went through numerous different gin botanicals, not necessarily all found in Bombay Sapphire, to identify the different aspects of gin tasting. Another guest was Jan van Ongevalle, one of Belgium’s leading mixologists, who was part of the team running the bar at Imagin, the pop-up bar in Belgium that ran last summer.
My main interest is of course how it mixes with my highly esteemed set of tonic mixers.
1724 – The nose is quite light with mild citrus, and it has lots of licorice in the flavor. The finish is quite peppery. It really follows the balance of the Bombay Sapphire.
Fever Tree – A soft, floury texture with mostly citrus, cassia and licorice. Peppers are all around again and the aftertaste is sweet and, again, peppery.
Fever Tree Meditrerranean Tonic – The full herbal flavours of the Mediterranean Tonic (MT) balance really well with the heavy citrus of the East.
Thomas Henry – Mildly bitter with juniper in the opening. A very crisp sweetness of cassia and licorice is all around with citrus (mainly lemongrass) dominating the middle
Fentiman’s – Very fresh with very, very much citrus. It pulls East mainly towards the fresh side of the G&T spectrum, combined with a dry taste and lots of Orris Root in the finish.
East is a very welcome addition to the Bombay family. It shows that a line extension can be made with some ‘simple’ adjustments – not straying to far off from the original recipe, yet giving it a a very own character. Just like with the Bombay Sapphire, the East matches best with Thomas Henry Tonic. The mild bitterness in the tonic combines very well with the lemon and pepper.
I was also very surprised by the mix with the Fever Tree MT, which matches much, much better that the regular tonic. Great mix!