I was chuffed and privileged to make it to the Juniper Society’s much demanded Bombay Sapphire tasting (250 years of their recipe!) on Monday 10th October. I also liked to think of this as kicking off my London Cocktail Week with a really good education on what would be in several of the week’s drinks.
On arriving, there was a mysterious black curtain stopping us peeking into the space. If this is to be done for all the events it would certainly help considering the noise levels in the main bar can get…rowdy. I was handed an Aviator – Bombay Dry, lemon juice, maraschino syrup and crème de violette. It was very sharp and although I like my cocktails bitter, needed some more syrup. We were welcomed into (very chilly) the room where 8 glasses and the revered Bombay Tasting Kit awaited us. Were they trying to ensure we stayed awake?
After a brief history and drawings of rectifying columns for vapour infusion (whew!) we started with our kits, and the various manifestations of Juniper. There was pine tree on one, more citrus on another, then resin on another. We tried some others such as orange and coriander. And soon we felt prepared to venture our noses into the glasses
Glass 1 – Single note spirit, front heavy = vapour infused juniper
Glass 2 – More weight at the back = juniper steeped for 24hrs
Glass 3 – Juniper, angelica, coriander and liquorice vapourised
Glass 4 – Juniper, angelica, coriander and liquorice macerated
Glasses 3 and 4 were, for me, much harder to tell apart
Glass 5 – Very pine driven nose but lots more orange on the palate
Glass 6 – Raw pepper on the palate from quiet nose, spicy wood notes, almond finish, smooth
Glass 7 – Some pepper, some flower, bit indistinct
Glass 8 – Lots of lemon on nose and develops more over time, cucumber palate
So the conclusion, 1 to 4 were all varietal aspects of
Glass 5 was Beefeater, glass 6 was Bombay Sapphire Dry (watch this space), glass 7 was Bombay Sapphire and glass 8 was Hendricks – the modern option less juniper driven. We then let them set up for round two and had a final glass of Bombay Punch, a little forgettable after the screw-up-your-face Aviator and the amazing education we were just privilege to.