Article by Allie, Liquor Department Associate
My first taste of gin happened in college, during a brief summer study abroad to the United Kingdom. My recollection of the event remains a positive one, though the overall trip made me more of a scotch enthusiast than a gin-sipper.
With that said, working with a wide variety of spirits demands a growing knowledge of not only flavors and cocktail combinations, but also the techniques used by major brands. So while I had known that Bombay Sapphire stated rather prominently on its bottles that their product was “vapour infused,” British spelling and all, until recently I hadn’t the foggiest clue what that meant.
Cue Google and the subsequent sifting for reliable sources, just as fresh gin sifts through sources such as juniper and citrus peels to gain its famous flavors. What I found is that major gin distilleries follow one of two methods:
- Maceration, whereby the flavor botanicals are steeped (either whole or in powdered form) in the neutral spirit. This can take as little as a few hours or several days, depending on the desired concentration of flavor.
- Vapor infusion, used by Bombay Sapphire, where instead of putting everything into the still to soak prior to distillation, the liquid and the solids are kept separate. Headlands Distilling Company describes this as heating the still, and then “alcohol vapour will pass through the botanicals, extracting some flavour, before being [sent] to the condenser to be cooled back into a liquid” (2020). This method effectively softens the flavors, whereas maceration creates a much more distinct and powerful profile.
As the weather winds up towards warmer temperatures (late snowstorms notwithstanding) a just-as-natural shift to lighter, crisper cocktails begins. Therefore, the Gin & Tonic cocktail by Bombay Sapphire, eye-catching in a slim blue can and at only 5.9% ABV, delivers an easy option to pull from your cooler or refrigerator. No need to worry about mix ratios with these; crack one open and you’re ready to go with a slice of lime.
Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic cans are available in the Pre-mixed Cocktails section at Superior Liquor as a 4-pack for $14.99, or as single cans for $4.29 each.
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