What makes Bombay Sapphire gin so special? Interview with Sam Carter – Bombay Sapphire’s brand ambassador

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After I visited the Bombay Sapphire distillery a few questions remained on my mind so I contacted Sam Carter, the gin’s brand ambassador and our lovely tour guide, to answer them. I was fascinated by how “human” such a big brand it and how it makes a difference by contributing to the environment and the local community.

 

Laverstoke Mill is such a beautiful and serene place, with the River Test passing underneath. We know that the architect who designed the glasshouse is Thomas Heatherwick, who also designed the new London bus, the Olympic Cauldron and Google’s headquarters. How did you decide to work with him?

Thomas Heatherwick won one of our Bombay Sapphire prize competitions, which was to design something made of glass. He won that year, and he became one of the Bombay Sapphire foundation member, which meant he was on the panel of judges for future competitions, which developed the relationship between him and Bombay Sapphire. When we purchased Laverstoke Mill, it seemed logical that we would use someone as creative and deeply entrenched in the brand as Thomas Heatherwick, through Heatherwick studio.

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I was impressed to find out that the only straws found at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery are for demonstrations only, on how not to drink gin. How important is it for the Bombay Sapphire Distillery to be environmental friendly and what are you doing to keep the distillery sustainable?

Sustainability is a major focus for us- so much so that we won an outstanding BREEAM award for sustainable design. To achieve this award, every aspect of building, renovating and running the distillery was done in a sustainable way. We chose a derelict site to renovate, rather than building on a brownfields site, to repurpose something that was already there. We rehomed the bats found in the roof, and rerouted the River to give the wildlife a better, cleaner space to live. In terms of running the distillery, we have a water turbine which produces enough power for all the LED lighting onsite. We have solar panels, and a heat recovery system, which recycles heat from distillations and uses the heat to power the next distillation. We have a biomass boiler which burns waste botanicals after they have been distilled, and we have a rainwater recovery system to flush our toilets with grey water. We recycle 100% of our waste, and send nothing to landfill.

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Tell me a little bit about where the botanicals used in making the Bombay Sapphire gin are sourced from.

(please see side of bottle for where botanicals come from) Bombay Sapphire’s botanicals were sourced from around the world by our Master of Botanicals, Ivano Tonutti. To ethically source our botanicals, Ivano travels tirelessly to set up relationships with farmers to ensure we have the highest quality botanicals for our gin. Ivano speaks 5 languages fluently, and 8 languages in total, and sources 110 botanicals in total for Bacardi brands like Bombay Sapphire, Martini, Grey Goose, and St Germain.

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I know that Bombay Sapphire gin is created through the vapour infusion process. What does that mean?

The majority of other gins around the world boil their botanicals in the alcohol, which provides a heavy, waxy cooked flavour in the botanicals. Bombay Sapphire gins are all vapour infused, meaning that we heat our neutral grain spirit and allow the vapour produced to pass through the botanicals. The result is a gin with a greater complexity, with a more natural expression of the raw botanical, which isn’t denatured.

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Let’s talk about drinking gin. Many people will only drink gin in a cocktail. Why would you recommend having gin on its own as well?

Star of Bombay was designed to be drunk neat over ice, like many other spirit categories around the world. We also advocate drinking it as a Gin & Tonic, and always socially responsibly.

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Can you tell us what inspired you to create The Laverstoke, the signature cocktail dedicated to the opening of The Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill in 2014?

I wanted to create a cocktail to help celebrate the opening of Laverstoke Mill. I understand that Bombay Sapphire has five main key pillars of flavour- pine, citrus, root floral and spice, so when creating the cocktail, I wanted to pull out on these five main flavours to hero and extenuate them. The lime compliments the citrus, elderflower for the floral notes, ginger for the spice and the rootiness, and vermouth because it works so well with gin.

 

What is your top tip for people who have only tasted Gin mixed with Tonic and for people who say that they don’t like it?

We understand that 80% of gin around the world is drunk as a gin & tonic, but many people who say they don’t like gin, actually don’t like tonic water. Experiment making gin in a cocktail. We have a great selection of cocktails on our website – start with a classic Collins and grown your confidence from there.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

33 Comments

  1. Such an interesting post! I am one of the people who do like tonic, it was the only thing I drunk when I was pregnant, but it’s obviously better with gin! Really interesting facts about distillery and their waste. I’ve been lucky enough to go to a few factories and am always amazed at the processes and what they do.

  2. Bombay Sapphire is definitely my favourite gin, even though I’ve tried many, more expensive ones. I just always go back to Bombay. Even here in Korea, I drink Bombay! Ha!

  3. I’m very must in environmental issues and love the fact they are accountable. My mum drinks this gin and has done for years 🙂

  4. I love their time line of gin bottles, it’s such a cool way to show how they’ve changed as a brand over time. I had no idea how gin was made before this post, I guess you learn something new everyday! 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed this post on many levels. Firstly I love Gin and really get the whole expanding the tonic thing. Fever tree do some different tonics. I got to taste some with ginger ale and loved it. I also love Thomas Heatherwick and did not know he had designed the glass house there. Such a good post giving us lots of knowledge and interest 😍👍

  6. It is an original post and it is the first time I hear something like this. I’m not a gin drinker but it’s amazing to know the process behind!
    I’ve added this brand to my list of gifts so when I have to do a gift I will know what to choice lol

  7. I love Bombay Sapphire gin so this was really interesting to read. It’s great that they are such an environmentally friendly company using ethically sourced products. The vapour infusion process sounds good, it must smell amazing in there whilst that is going on!

  8. You know what, I’ve always said so hate Gin but actually I know I don’t like tonic water and I’ve not tried gin with anything else so perhaps a I should try again!! I’ve always thought Bombay sapphire looks incredible!

  9. I’m not a gin drinker, but I can say I haven’t tried Bombay Sapphire gin either at least without knowledge. This really opens up the palette by showing the consumer the inner workings and the examinations of what all goes into making it in along with how they chose the flavors to infuse it with. I’ll have to try it but not with Tonic. I can’t stand the taste of tonic.

  10. Oh I had no idea they dedicated so much attention to sustainability! Ethical sourcing of ingredients and zero waste is really important to me…so I might have to give gin a try!

  11. I am not a gin drinker and I had never known how this drink was made until I read this article. Your photos all look so elegant and classy to show us what goes behind the process.

  12. We’ve just started making cocktails with gin a couple years ago. My fave quick mix is gin and tonic with lime. I’ve got to share this with hubby, who is so into all the techie and logistics of where the drink originates.

  13. I lov the glasshouse! Thomas Heatherwick did a great job here. There’s so much creativity there! I love it that this company has eye for the environment. Recycling 100% of your waste, and send nothing to landfill, I don’t think many companies can say that! I love your last question! I’m indeed one of those people who has only drunk gin combined with tonic. You definitely convinced me know to try it without tonic. I’m going to check out the cocktails!

  14. I don’t drink alcohol simply because I don’t like its taste. But I have many friends and family members who enjoy drinking it, espeacially on our together nights out. Reading this blog post is really inspiring, the story behind the brand is truly positive, and I would always recommend the gin to my friends. I occasionally buy them a bottle of some kind of gin, so why not this time Bombay Saphire? 🙂

  15. Really educational article. I learned so much about gin. Now, when I make a cocktail with Bombay, I’ll remember all this interesting stuff. Thanks!

  16. What a fascinating read. I know nothing about gin apart from I don’t drink it, meaning I’m not hip and trendy haha! I think I need to give it another go as I did try it with tonic and like Sam mentions here, it;s the tonic that people don’t like! The building is beautiful and there are some gorgeous photo’s here x

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