It’s Monday afternoon which means it’s time to shine a spotlight on something that has just arrived at MoM towers. This week we’re particularly excited about Bombay Sapphire‘s first-ever flavoured gin which is inspired by the Bramble cocktail.
Flavoured gin is one of those divisive drink topics, like additional colouring in whisky, whether spiced rum is really rum at all or the use of the word ‘craft’. The juniper ultras may bristle at the sight of a brand that has, up until now, prioritised botanical distillation, joining the fruity brigade, but if it tastes good and it’s still recognisably gin, then we’re all over it.
Capitalising on the ongoing gin trend, however, isn’t easy. Pink gin, in particular, is one of the most successful new spirit product developments in the last decade. But pretty much every other flavour combination has been done: Rhubarb and Ginger? Yep. Quinine, wormwood and blue lotus blossom? Of course. Jaffa Cake? Hell yeah! So where does Bombay Sapphire turn to inspiration?
The answer is The Bramble, a cocktail which Henry wrote some rather excellent words on here. It was created by the late, great Dick Bradsell in the ’80s at Fred’s Club, Soho, London and was inspired by the time he spent in his childhood foraging for blackberries. It’s made with dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur), which gives it a deep, fruity and sweet taste.
It’s this profile that Bombay Sapphire used to create Bombay Bramble. The press release says the brand pushed “the boundaries of flavour and colour by marrying the brand’s vapour distilled gin with a real fruit infusion that gives a distinct crimson colour and natural flavour”. Which basically means that they used actual fresh raspberries and blackberries to make this gin, with no added sugars or colouring. That natural colour is the first thing that strikes you about Bombay Bramble. It’s very pretty and purple, like Prince in 1984.
“Launching a flavour expression was always going to take time as it’s important that the taste experience comes purely from natural botanicals and ingredients,” said Ivano Tonutti, master of botanicals at Bombay Sapphire. “This is so we can offer even the most discerning gin drinkers the right balance of fruit flavour without compromising the quality of our core product. Master distiller Dr. Anne Brock and I worked closely and carefully to infuse our gin with an exclusive maceration of berries that have been harvested at their ripest moment”.
“Flavoured gin is a category that can’t be ignored, our consumers are demanding it with flavoured gin accounting for over a third of total gin value. We believe Bombay Sapphire shows great potential and we are delighted to see the positive reaction from our drinkers so far,” added Natasha Curtin, global vice president of Bombay Sapphire. “When it comes to taste, our refusal to add refined sugar post distillation ensures a less sweet and cloying taste, allowing the true nature of our gin to shine through. By using a rich fruit infusion versus the common practice of highly concentrated or artificial flavours, the palate becomes more attuned to the dryer option provided by Bombay Bramble”.
In the marketing bumf, there are ideas for all kinds of cocktail experimentation. You can, of course, embrace the simple pleasures in life and make G&Ts. Pop in 50ml of Bombay Bramble and 100 ml of tonic water over ice into a glass, then squeeze in a lemon wedge and drop the little sucker in and bam. You’ve got yourself a playful twist on the traditional. Easy as pie. Bramble pie (is that a thing?). At least that’s the recipe the brand has provided. Personally, while I think this did make quite a pleasingly punchy and refreshing G&T, it needs more balance. Some experimenting is required.
Of course, what you really should be making is the cocktail that the drink shares its name with. Again, Bombay Sapphire has provided its own recipe for The Bramble. Simply add 50ml of Bombay Bramble, 25ml of freshly squeezed lemon and 15ml of sugar syrup to a cocktail shaker, then shake, pour over crushed ice and garnish with fresh berries. Voilà. The brand’s interpretation on the classic cocktail is a simple yet effective serve that’s really very pleasant and seems perfectly timed given this is hardly the ideal time to be shopping around for ingredients. It also works as the base spirit in the Clover Club cocktail, removing the need for raspberries.
Bombay Bramble is an interesting move for the brand because I’ve always thought of Bombay Sapphire as being a light, crisp and refreshing way to enter the world of gin. This is darker and heavier in its delivery. It’s a departure for the brand, but it does work. I appreciate that its creation was rooted in a bit of gin history and the authenticity of its flavour profile. Those primary notes of blackberry and raspberry are delightful. There’s the usual MoM tasting note below which explains more and if you want to make up your own mind about Bombay Bramble, you’ll be pleased to know it’s available from MoM now, just click here.
Bombay Bramble tasting note:
Nose: The fruit stands out, unsurprisingly. The first time you put your nose in the glass it’s like smelling a homemade jam. The blackberries make the initial impact, juicy and rounded before they turn more bittersweet. A perfumed floral element adds to the summer vibes, as does the warm citrus of lemon peel and coriander. There’s still plenty of the botanicals you get in the classic Bombay Sapphire, hints of thick liquorice laces, aromatic spice from grains of paradise and then the subtle but very pleasant note of juniper. The raspberries add a tart edge to the nose that I really like, along with a welcome touch of complex sweetness.
Palate: Oily and thick, the palate is surprisingly bittersweet at first. Again I’m getting more blackberries, this time ripe and bold, then comes the raspberry with its unmistakable tart and sweet combo. There’s a delicate sweetness from angelica making its mark which, when combined with the fruit, gives the gin an Eton Mess vibe. The floral notes are more earthy, the warming citrus never goes away and the juniper makes a pleasant cameo.
Finish: The jammy fruits linger among a warm peppery finish that we’ve come to know and love from Bombay Sapphire.