Dr. Anne Brock is Bombay Sapphire’s esteemed Master Distiller, whose incredible technical experience and education has made her a visionary in the gin category. Holding a position on the board of directors at the Gin Guild, Anne brings her passion for gin to her role at Laverstoke Mill. Working alongside the Master of Botanicals, Ivano Tonutti, Anne is responsible for fulfilling the global demand for the world’s most popular gin, leading a team of 14 distillers at Laverstoke Mill to produce every drop and bottle of Bombay Sapphire enjoyed around the world.
Bar Business spoke with Dr. Brock about Bombay Sapphire and the growing interest in gin. Read our full interview below!
Bar Business Media (BBM): What makes Bombay Sapphire different from other gins on the market?
Anne Brock (AB):
SUSTAINABILITY: Bombay Sapphire is the #1 premium gin brand in the world by volume and value, so we have strong awareness among consumers. Innovation and creativity are a big part of our brand heritage and DNA, so it is an ongoing process to not only bring new and exciting products to consumers, but also improve the production process so that it is more sustainable and efficient.
Laverstoke Mill, our distillery, was the first distillery design to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM award for sustainability in 2014. And recently we are proud to say that the suppliers of all 10 botanicals for Bombay Sapphire have been certified sustainable with For Life certification by Ecocert S.A. – a first for any gin.
At our brand home, Laverstoke Mill, 100% of the electrical power used for distillation and bottling is green energy from renewable sources—the distillery has achieved the Carbon Trust Standard. The distillery has zero waste to landfill and ensures all waste is converted into energy. Used botanicals generate energy through anaerobic digestion, which produces enough electricity to power 10 homes in the grid for a full year. This makes the entire life cycle of our botanicals sustainable, from the growing methods to the waste management.
BOTANICALS: Our Master of Botanicals, Ivano Tonutti, hand selects 10 different eco-certified ingredients across the world to give Bombay Sapphire gin its bright, balanced flavor. Each exotic herb and botanical are sustainably sourced and picked from the 500 or more botanicals Ivano samples per year to ensure the best ingredients make it into the recipe. From the heat of our Javan cubeb berries to the spice of our Ghanaian Grains of Paradise, every one of our ten precious botanicals are chosen to bring their own special something to our gin. When vapor distilled on our unique stills, they come together to give Bombay Sapphire its tantalizing, smooth, and complex taste.
VAPOR INFUSION: While ordinary gins boil their botanicals directly in the spirit to achieve their flavor, the wonderfully distinctive taste of our gin is created using the Vapor Infusion process. We still use our original Carterhead stills—Tom and Mary—from the 1830s, but we have now added two state-of-the-art 12,000 litre copper pot stills—Henry and Victoria—to our refurbished original stills.
Once we’ve hand-selected the finest botanicals on earth, instead of boiling, we gently vapor infuse them, meaning that as the heated spirit vapors rise, they pass through the botanicals, which gently infuse the spirit with all the rich aromatic flavors our botanicals release. This process ensures that we only capture their brightest, natural, and vibrant tastes. The result is a uniquely balanced taste that is bright and fresh, with each botanical perfectly complementing one another, making the gin inherently mixable and versatile.
Bombay Sapphire is recognized as a canvas for creativity by bartenders—its bright, balanced flavor profile is perfect for creating exceptional drinks and allows people to experiment with cocktails from elevating the classics, such as G&T, or more elaborate creative cocktails.
BBM: Gin has been increasing in popularity. What do you think has led to the increased interest?
AB: Craft cocktail culture has been on the rise for decades. Many people got their introduction to cocktail-making through vodka, a perennially popular category that is neutral tasting and clear. When many of those brands began to launch flavor iterations that pushed the boundaries at the time, people became more interested in robust, flavorful spirits that allowed them to build more complex cocktails. Cue the gin category, which provides a step change from vodka and serves as the perfect base to craft creative cocktails from.
BBM: What trends have you observed in the world of gin and gin cocktails?
AB: Once you have the taste for juniper, it is not one that goes away easily. There are very few spirits that are as refreshing and interesting as gin, which will aid its staying power. Given the herbaceous botanical flavors that are light and airy on the palette, we see an uptick of flavored gins in the same way vodka gained its popularity. The fact that we are taking flavored gin and truly asking people to think about what is in their bottle is something that is going to make its way into the latest gin trend.
People are falling back in love with gin and the versatility that it has always brought to the table. As people experiment more with the spirit and start getting more creative with their cocktailing, they are realizing that gin brings a spark of complexity and flavor they realize they were missing before. Because it can be used as a base for so many kinds of cocktails that appeal to a wide variety of drinkers, we’re seeing that gin is making a splash across demographics and genders.
BBM: How can bartenders best work with gin? Any advice for ingredients/flavors it mixes well with?
AB: The beauty of the gin category is that as long as you have juniper in the botanical mix, you can be as creative as you like. This has given rise to more and more spirits that push the boundaries of what gin is. It’s this flexibility in the interpretation of the definition of gin which has driven a creative boom in the category and allows us to appeal to more spirits drinkers. It also means that bartenders have many more gin taste profiles to choose when making their cocktails, although we know that Bombay Sapphire is a favorite due to its classic flavor profile and balance that lends itself for use in all cocktails from the classics to new creative expressions.
BBM: Can you share some of your favorite Bombay Sapphire recipes?
AB: It’s always difficult to pinpoint a few, as a lot of gin cocktails compliment all kinds of occasions, but a few personal favorites of mine are:
Raspberry and Mint Bombay and Tonic
When you want to turn a classic mix into an elevated sip, I like to opt for the Raspberry and Mint Bombay and Tonic that replenishes the palette and harmonizes with the gin’s natural botanicals.
50 ml Bombay Sapphire
100 ml Premium tonic water
Garnish: 3 fresh raspberries, 3 medium sized mint leaves & a mint sprig – gently awoken
Place the raspberries & mint leaves into a clean balloon glass. Add the Bombay Sapphire then swirl well to infuse. Fully fill the glass with cubed ice & top with Fever-Tree Tonic Water. Gently fold/stir to combine then garnish with a gently awoken mint sprig.
Whenever I’m looking to enjoy a more spirit forward cocktail, I seek out a gin negroni for a luxurious feeling.
25 ml Bombay Sapphire
25 ml MARTINI® Rosso Vermouth
25 ml MARTINI® Bitter
Garnish: Orange wedge
Fill a tumbler with ice. Build ingredients in the glass and stir gently to mix. Garnish with orange wedge
A recent crave of mine has been the Bramble cocktail—a true toast to springtime in a glass that brings you a warm sunny day no matter where you are.
50 ml Bombay Bramble
25 ml Fresh lemon juice
5 ml sugar syrup
Garnish: Lemon Wedge, Blackberry
Build ingredients into a rocks glass. Top with crushed ice. Garnish with a fresh lemon wedge and blackberry.