Bombay Sapphire East

Bombay Sapphire East Bottle Let’s start at the very beginning. I was taught at a young age that it the most logical, and perhaps “best,” place to start.

There once was a time in my life where gin at the bar was limited to the standards. The junipers. The burning sensation of a foreign beverage. One I didn’t quite understand. It may have been my predilection for the color blue. It may have been pure chance, that my eye, wandered to that shelf in the back and saw the blue bottle- faintly illuminated from the back-bar lights. It was Bombay Sapphire. and it was my first true taste of a gin that made me want to come back for more. I did learn to appreciate, and yes even love, the other colors, the other names and other brands. But Bombay Sapphire does hold a special place in my gin loving heart. And that is why when I heard that Bombay Sapphire East was going to be test-launched here in New York City (along with Las Vegas) I knew I had to try it immediately.

Back to the Present

I saw the bottle at Astor Place Wines and Spirits last Friday and bough it. However the bottle I bought was not to be my first taste. With the bag in my bag, my wife and I went to Madame Geneva’s on Bleeker for some Friday night refreshments. The first drink I ordered (the name be damned! It escapes me) had Bombay Sapphire East in it, along with lemon juice and a couple of other things that naturally escaped my memory as it was a Friday night and I was in relaxation (and not blogger) mode. Anyway, the first thing I noticed was the taste of black pepper. It rose immediately to the surface, I didn’t detect the lemongrass at first. But the flavor tasted unmistakably of Bombay Sapphire.

On to a Proper Tasting

At home, I sipped a bit of it neat. Black pepper feels almost like the primary flavor in it. I don’t know if I was trained to look for it because of the marketing or what. But it’s there, and I have to be honest- it compliments juniper fantastically. I think that black peppercorn is the spice and compliment that brings the juniper out in this gin.

Chilled, but still not mixed, you begin to get a bit more of the lemongrass and the herbals underneath. It’s here that Bombay Sapphire East begins to taste a lot like its older brother Bombay Sapphire. The lemon/citrus notes are a little more muted here. There’s a nutty sweetness, I think its a combination of the almond and the cassia bark that come together to create a flavor that I think is both, but neither simultaneously. It may be the addition of the two new botanicals, but I feel that East is more balanced and a bit more complex.

Botanical bingo

And Finally some Mixing

I couldn’t resist making a gin and tonic with it. It seemed a perfect-match for the tonic water that I had declared as “lemongrass central” just last week. With Fentiman’s, you have a delicious gin and tonic that is decidedly more herbal than it is when drank neat. Conversely, use some Q-tonic and you have a peppery and sharp gin and tonic. This is a gin that rewards those who may be inclined to experiment with their tonics. There’s a few competing angles here. Add some extra lime and you have a citrus East and Tonic that is very similar to classic Bombay Sapphire.

It has a nice profile that makes for an interesting heavy gin:vermouth (> 5:1) martini, but overall I’m hesitant to recommend it for a 2:1 martini. It felt like the best notes of it were overwhelmed.

It makes for a shining Negroni. The spicy brightness of the pepper again stars here, and it rises to the surface. I strongly endorse the East Negroni. The lemon notes have always made Bombay Sapphire a go-to gin that does its thing well with lemon juice, so Tom Collins and the citrus juice + gin family are excellent choices for this gin.

And perhaps beyond?

One thing I’ve become quite interested in is how gin works in cooking and the kitchen. I’ve been tweeting recipes I see that use gin, the juniper being a key characteristic in a lot of northern European cuisines, and a nice compliment for many Asian dishes. But a gin that accentuates black pepper? Something which I put into every dish? There’s a potential in here that I think could be very creatively explored.

Best consumed: Gin and Tonic, Negroni, or heavy-citrus cocktail. Neat/On the rocks also brings out some interesting flavors.
Rating: A gin that goes in a direction that other gins haven’t gone, and comes out a winner.

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Readers' Reviews

Post last updated by Aaron

24 thoughts on “Bombay Sapphire East

  • September 29, 2011by David T Smith

    Really nice article, every one seems to have a Bombay Sapphire story. I think it was BS that switched me to Gin Martinis. Another one of those gate-way gins. I really like the bottle too, a subtle change but a good one.

  • October 17, 2011by bob petro

    a little hard to find, but worth the hunt. delicate flavor makes a GREAT martini which makes it difficult to enjoy just one!

  • December 6, 2011by Mark

    Banging my own drum here a little but Fellow Productions recently completed the commercial for Bombay Sapphire East now trialling in US cinemas. We spent 10 gruelling days in Vietnam and Thailand but a thing of real beauty just like the gin.
    Have a look http://tinyurl.com/c5k4t82

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  • October 22, 2012by JR

    BEST GIN I EVER TASTED. GOT SOME AT GATWICK DUTY FREE LAST MONTH

  • December 3, 2012by Edward Davidson

    OK. You’ve convinced me. I’m IN!! Now if I can just find it ……

  • December 28, 2012by Russell R. Miller

    I believe that Bombay drinkers would enjoy the current spy novel “Death on the Silk Road.” In the opening chapter, the central character is enjoying a Bombay martini in a hotel bar in Istanbul…..
    “Dusk was fading into darkenss and the lights were beginning to better define the extended spans of the Bosporos Bridge. Charlie Connelly nursed his Bombay martini as he gazed thoughfully through the darkened windows of the Istanbul Hilton’s rooftop bar.” The spy novel is set primarily in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan and involves the Chinese, the Uighurs, and rare-earth minerals. It is available world wide at amazon.com and makes an entertaining read.

  • May 8, 2013by Bonnie

    I like my martini’s dirty… generally use Sapphire… do you think Sapphire East would work with the olives?

  • May 8, 2013by AaronPost author

    I think it would- pepper goes nicely with Olives, and I think the brine might give it a nice “salt and pepper” taste. Ultimately it’s up to you, but I would embrace this idea head on. Let me know how it is once you get a chance to taste it.

    I generally drink my martinis 4:1 or 3:1, just a nice vermouth, good gin and a lemon twist.

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  • October 17, 2013by chris austin

    Not sure if I dare admit to having been a Gordon’s fan … BUT …. I bought 2 litres of East at Sydney airport recently … Oh! boy …what a revelation ….. I’m convinced ….. it was wonderful ….. I’m totally converted.

  • November 13, 2013by Terry searl

    This is the first time I’ve visited this page and I found the comments very useful. I am a Bombay Sapphire Gin Martini drinker and saw a bottle of the East Bombay Sapphire gin in our local Liquour store this afternoon and so wanted a review of it before buying a bottle……..Thank-you for a very credible review

  • January 27, 2014by hawkeyeui93

    I never thought Bombay Sapphire was worth the premium price [and prefer Bombay Original], but the addition of the lemongrass and peppercorn really ups the game here. Bombay Sapphire East is worth the premium.

  • February 15, 2014by Philip Miles (@PhilipMiles)

    @Bonnie – I used East to make a 4:1 dirty martini with jalapeno-stuffed olives. The spicy olives mixed great with the spicy gin!

  • June 10, 2014by Leigh Gatny Foster

    This made a delightful gimlet!

  • July 6, 2014by Nick

    As a huge BS fan, I was happy to see this at a local store and picked it up immediately.

    The black pepper was indeed the star, and I loved it. This is a gin that I am enjoying myself on its own, though I am mixing it here and there.

    I also throw splashes of gin in the marinade I make for pork chops. The pepper and lemongrass were welcome additions and went great with pork.

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  • November 21, 2014by Sharon

    In the cookbook ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, there is a gorgeous recipe marinading chicken pieces in Arak with fennel and clementines which is then baked. I substitute the Arak for gin and clementines for orange, I wonder how BSE would go?!

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  • August 8, 2015by Jane

    Bought this at glasgow airport via canada, not been a gin drinker long but i would recomend bombay sapphire east best gin and tonic i have had so far, cant wait for it to come to scotland will be first in the que.

  • August 18, 2015by miss moneypenny

    The drink you had at Madam Geneva’s was a “Corpse Reviver” …it also contains Absinthe btw….no wonder you had the memory lapse LOL

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  • January 25, 2016by Robert Boyd

    I have been a Bombay Gin drinker (neat or on the rocks) for as long as long as I can remember (I just turned 83) and with the advent of Bombay Sapphire I gave it a try. What an incredible marketing job to add the blue bottle to the new package. However, when I reached the cashier I began to understand what was going on. I was asked to pay a HUGE premium for 9.3% more alcohol to match the alcohol content of Tangary or Beafeater. Alcohol by itself is very inexpensive and to ask a 40% premium for a 1.75 bottle was gutsy at best. But it worked. Sapphire is on every barroom shelf. What a success. But for me and my loyalty to Queen Vicki, as well as a deep-rooted Scottish heritage, I’ll stick with the Original, or as I say, “White Bombay up with an olive please”.

    Oh, this is about Bombay Sapphire East, right. Please read the above.

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