Sunday 27 March 2016

A visit to Bombay Sapphire distillery

The Institute of Brewing and Distilling seems to be focussed a lot more on the former, at least dahn sarf, so I was looking forward to the meeting at Bombay Sapphire distillery. Sadly the Master Distiller had been called away so we got the tourist trip rather than a technical visit.

We spent a lot of time looking at the incredibly ornate greenhouses, where they have examples of the plants they use as botanicals.

There plants in the greenhouses aren't actually used in the gin though, so are strictly part of the tourist attraction.

The golden lemon is not made but grows on a green tree
Fortunately the IBD mag had an article on Bombay Sapphire recently so I could look up the technical stuff afterwards. Bombay Sapphire has ten botanicals: juniper berries, lemon peel, coriander seeds, angelical roots, orsis root, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, cassia bark, almonds and liquorice. There are brand extensions that use some more botanicals, and we got to have a sniff of them all in an adjoining room. Based on what we liked best a cocktail was recommended for us, and I'm sure it will come as no surprise to my regular readers that modern epicurean was the one for me.

This was all good fun but really I wanted technical details about the stills. I've long had a suspicion that gin distilling is quite frankly on the boring side. The do after all start with grain neutral spirit at 96.3% ABV so as far as I can see the interesting bit has already been done.

This didn't explain why a column with cooling could be clearly seen on top of the stills, I'm pleased to say it was all in the mag. They have two pairs of stills, this is one of the 3000L ones:

It's to an 1830s design and has nine plates in the column, presumably from when spirits were less pure. The Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS) is diluted to 80% ABV before distillation, which helps ensure the still doesn't run dry, and the botanicals aren't boiled in the spirit, instead the vapour goes to in infuser which contains them. The distillation temperature is 79°C.

The larger 12000L stills
Foreshots and feints aren't used and are sent off to be made into industrial alcohol. As they're starting with GNS this is because they don't contain the right concentration of flavouring rather than because of unwanted fusel oils.

They made of big show of making the cocktails and I dare say they know their stuff but they're not really my thing. Had I not been driving and had there been more time it would have been interesting to work my way though their offerings though.

As it is most gin that comes my way ends up as sloe gin and I don't think I'll be investing in a cocktail shaker any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment