For our gin tasting Bombay Sapphire served as our yard stick, so to speak. More so, I think this holds true for a large portion of the population. Sapphire is the most common top-shelf gin that you’ll find when ordering drinks at most restaurants and bars. And so it follows that this gin be the one people are most familiar with. It was certainly the case for me up until a couple years ago when I really started to enjoy gin over vodka and started expanding my horizons. I started buying various gins to get an idea of what flavors they bring to the party. My typical sampling drink was always the Gin and Tonic, which I assure you we will cover later on. Sapphire works fairly well with a G&T although not currently my favorite. Because of this fact it was hard to top Sapphire and it reigned king for me for quite some time. It wasn’t until I branched out to other gin cocktails that it came clearer to me that Sapphire need not be king for life.
Without question Sapphire is a very good gin, but I think Sean summed it up nicely during out tasting. The spirit is “too complex [and has a] muddled [flavor]”. Sapphire uses ten botanicals in creating its spirit which seems to lead to a somewhat muddled flavor. I think the key reason behind this is because no flavor is prime. The result of this is a gin that can easily compete with vodka, which I think is no mistake on the part of Bacardi, Sapphire’s producer. Vodka became the dominant spirit in the market in the mid-70’s. In order to compete I think some gins have toned down their flavors.
But back to our comments from the tasting. We felt that Sapphire had a nice creamy beggining but ended with quite a bit of burn. Someone, who will remain nameless (ok, I forgot to include a name in my notes) felt there was a smell of bark. The only realy complaint was that there was no forward flavor. That said, Sapphire remains my gin of choice when ordering drinks out, at least at less well stocked bars. If you haven’t tried many gin drinks, Sapphire is certainly a good place to start. Its mellow flavor will ease you in to enjoying gin.