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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.