Bombay Sapphire Gin

Is Bombay Sapphire Worth the High Price Tag?

Bombay Sapphire Gin
Bombay Sapphire Gin

Bombay Sapphire Gin, without doubt, comes in the classiest, coolest, most attractive and distinguished looking bottle any alcohol has ever known. The cool, blue bottle, along with its magical, Sapphire name brand is enough to make anyone buy the product at least once, regardless of the pricey cost. Do the contents live up to it’s packaging or are people brainwashed by the cool, blue bottle and Sapphire name? If Bombay Sapphire is worth the price that is paid for it, then you would expect it to taste 3 to 4 times better than house gins like Burnett’s, Gilby’s or Taaka Gin. Does it?

Bombay Sapphire Gin Martinis

A friend and the boss of my former company, introduced me to Bombay Sapphire martinis; straight up with no vermouth about 15 years ago. At the time, I remembered thinking they had an extremely strong first bite, and the alcohol seemed very potent. However, there was nothing special or unique enough about the flavor of Sapphire gin, that I would be willing to pay so much for them as my own, martini-making gin at home.  So, quicker than you chug down a sloe-gin fizz,  I made the decision that this expensive gin in the pretty bottle would never grace my home’s liquor cabinet. 15 years later, I don’t regret this decision. Since then, I have often visited friends and family members who do have a bottle of Bombay Sapphire in their bar. On these occasions, I was always anxious to try it again, thinking that I might finally be convinced that it is a superior tasting gin. Every time I’ve tried it, I’ve been greatly disappointed. In fact, Bombay Sapphire gin seems less smooth than most of the house gins that I drink – and that includes the ultra cheap bargain, gin, Taaka. I’ve read a great deal of user opinions on Bombay Sapphire and there are a number of people that seem to agree with me that Bombay Sapphire is not a very smooth tasting gin. Those that don’t like the bitterness describe it as being overly juniper-tasting. On the other hand, those who do like the strong taste, say they like it for the very same reason: it’s juniper flavor. My own, personal tastes happen to disagree with both sides on this matter. I don’t perceive Bombay Sapphire gin being any more juniper-tasting than many of my other favorite, cheaper gins. I would describe the initial bite as being more of a bitter citrus flavor, like an unripe, lemon peel. It simply tastes very strong and harsh to me and I would never pay $20.00 for a 1.75L bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin, much less the $33.00 average price that it actually costs. One other explanation for the strong first bite could be that it is 94 proof (47% alcohol). Typically, Gin is either 90 or 84 Proof. That’s a significant difference in alcohol content; enough that you might not be able to enjoy your typical two martinis before dinner without getting a headache. Stronger alcohol is not always better. If you like a dry martini, you’ve got to be careful when you make them with Bombay Sapphire gin, particularly if you weigh 170 lbs or less, like me.

I’ve noticed as a general rule, that those who don’t drink a particular type of alcohol every day, are the ones most likely to stock the expensive ones like Grey Goose Vodka and Sapphire gin in their home. I have a friend who keeps an 18 year old bottle of Aberlour scotch in his home just for when scotch-drinking friends (like me) 🙂 come over to visit. It is nice that friends and family members think enough of their guests to have the best brands of alcohol on hand. Those of us who drink it regularly, have learned to appreciate good brands of alcohol that are much less expensive; otherwise, we’d go broke. Since starting this review, I’ve tried the Taaka Gin again. It’s a little weak and plastic-like in its taste, but is indisputably smoother going down and much less likely to cause a headache the next morning. For a gin that is every bit as flavorful, but far smoother in taste, I’d recommend Beefeater Gin. Beefeater is the unanimous choice among Martini Drinkers. If you’re a sloe gin fizz drinker, you should be able to drink just about anything, but do you really want to pay 3 – 4 times more for Bombay Sapphire because it has a cool bottle and brand name? My guess is, no. And as a martini drinker, I say no to Bombay Sapphire gin.

New Amsterdam Gin

New Amsterdam Gin

Is New Amsterdam Gin among the very best at a secretly, low price? If you read my review on Taaka Gin and the Dirty Martini, you know that it takes more than price and prestige to get me to buy a bottle of Gin. Taaka Gin is by far the cheapest you can buy, yet by the time you add olive juice, tonic, vermouth or whatever else it is that you mix with your gin, the quality and smoothness of the raw flavor becomes less important, and the savings more substantial. Taaka is pretty good gin even straight from the bottle, but for the price, I always thought it was unbeatable. That is, until I found New Amsterdam. What makes New Amsterdam unique?

New Amsterdam Gin Taste Test

Don’t let the attractive bottle fool you. New Amsterdam tastes even better than it looks. Unlike, the cheap, $7.99 per 1.75-Liter, plastic Taaka Gin packaging, New Amsterdam actually comes in an attractive, geometrically-sophisticated, diamond glass bottle that would make Bombay Sapphire drinkers jealous. Inside the bottle is a majestic view of the Empire State building. The back of the bottle explains that New York City was once called, New Amsterdam, thus the reason for the name. If you can get by the fact it’s actually bottled and manufactured in Modesto, CA, it all makes perfect sense. Well, okay – probably, about as much sense as how a gin so affordable and tasty is made in the U.S at all, instead of London or France. I twisted off the silver cap and poured a splash into my bare martini glass and sniffed. Nothing about the aroma suggested that I was about to taste the best gin I ever had. It smelled clean and juniper-like, as you would expect from any decent bottle of gin. The unique surprise came when I brought the glass to my lips and let the first sip of gin moisten my tongue. I was immediately greeted to a first-taste that was so unusually clean, fruity and pleasant that I had to examine the branding on the bottle again, just to make sure it was gin and only gin that I was tasting and not one of those fruit-flavored liquors that are so popular. The bottle confirmed that New Amsterdam Gin is infused with some botanicals, which explains the subtle, fruity overtones.   My taste buds were unable to offer even a slight clue as to why I was suspicious in the first place. Upon taking a second sip, the clean, smooth fruitiness of the juniper berry was the only flavor I could distinctly name, yet there was a bit of a very pleasant citrus hint to it. Yet, unlike even the best quality gins, there was not that initial bite and reminder that it would take a few sips of getting used to. At once I knew, there would be no reason for vermouth or anything else to tame the flavor. The flavor is so easy, smooth and likable that the last thing I would want to do is mix it with anything. I shook it lightly in my stainless steel shaker with a few fresh ice cubes and poured it into my martin glass. I dropped in a couple of olives, careful not to let any excess olive juice taint this gin’s excellent flavor. My wife, who is not a martini drinker asked for me to mix her some with lime, so I obliged. She immediately liked it to. As I sipped on my martini with my new favorite gin, I told her that for the first time ever, I’ve found a reason to no longer buy $9.00 a bottle Taaka. Unlike other straight liquor, the first sip of New Amsterdam gin tastes every bit as good as the 2nd, 3rd….and last. It’s really that good. If there is one critical piece of feedback I might offer about New Amsterdam gin is that it does lean a little bit towards the sweet side, compared to other gins.  However, it is certainly not to be confused with other gin alcohol which is infused with fruit to make it sweeter. For example, Damson Gin which is a very popular, sweet liqueur from macerated plums and sugar.  For a more exotic example, Hendrick’s Gin is a small-batch, handcrafted gin from Scotland which is infused with cucumber and rose petals. New Amsterdam is neither pretends to be like a Hendrick’s Gin or Damson Gin. It is simply a very smooth gin with subtle overtones of citrus fruit. Since I’m mixing it, I don’t have a problem with it – and I am certainly not one who favors sweet drinks. So what does a great bottle of gin like this cost?

New Amsterdam Pricing

I paid $16.99 for a 1.75 liter bottle at my local liquor store in the Costco shopping center. This was not a sale price, but their everyday price!
While the cost is nearly double my standby favorite, Taaka, it is easily worth it. I would gladly by one bottle of this to two bottles of Taaka, even with the economy the way it is. Afterall, it beats the heck out of a $33.00 bottle of Bombay Sapphire. Life is too short not enjoy something so good that is so reasonably priced.

Final Ratings

  • Taste: 95
  • Price: 90
  • Value: 95
  • Overall: 93

The Gin Martini and a Dirty Little Secret

Dirty Martini
– An Idea

Dirty Martini with this?
Dirty Martini with this?

The nation’s top drink, the gin martini, is perhaps the most expensive drink we can least afford not to buy. In tough times like these, the last thing we want to do is give up our favorite brand of liquor. Yet, according to the latest government research, millions of consumer household liquor cabinets are running dangerously low on alcohol. The sad truth is, many of us simply don’t want to degrade ourselves and downgrade to discount brands of booze. We may think the fallout of the mortgage and loan crisis has reached rock-bottom, but what happens when Americans can no longer afford to buy their favorite brand of gin, vodka, scotch, tequila or bourbon? We could be facing a crisis that makes the Great Depression look like a Chucky Cheese birthday party. While the one trillion dollar stimulus package proposed by our current president has several millions allocated towards a lavish golf course, apparently there is not enough money leftover to provide a good bottle of gin. If you’ve been waiting for the government to supplement your latest stimulus check with a case of 1.75 liter bottles of Bombay Sapphire, I have a sneaking suspicion that’s not what this young, new president meant when he talked about, “Hope.” In this case, hope comes in the form of a drinkable, cheaper substitute brand of liquor. Once again, it is Taaka to the rescue.

As my recent review on Taaka Vodka proved,  premium brands of liquor may not be worth the extra cost. Do you like a dirty martini? Then this article is really for you. How does Taaka Gin stack up against your favorite brands like Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Quintessential?

Dirty Martini – That’s the Secret

I won’t lie to you.  Taaka is not quite as smooth and clean tasting as these other three brands, but it is still a very drinkable gin with a very nice, juniper-flavor and it won’t leave you having to ask for a federal bailout to continue your martini habit. Recently, when I did a side-by-side comparison I noticed that while Taaka did not quite taste as clean, it did have more of a distinguished juniper flavor than the Quintessential. A clean taste may be good, but what if you like a dirty martini (with olive juice)? If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why someone would pay 4 or 5 times more for a clean-tasting gin than ask their bartender to make it dirty? A while back, my wife and I were waiting for a dinner table at the bar at Bucca Di Beppo. I ordered a Beefeater Gin Martini, and was surprised that the  bartender asked if I wanted it dirty. I thought, why drown the flavor of an expensive gin with olive juice?  This is akin to mixing the expensive Grey Goose vodka with the very bitter taste of cranberry juice.  Can you imagine anyone thinking they can make a clean-tasting vodka taste any worse than an unclean, cheaper vodka after mixing it with the most bitter fruit juice on the planet? Now, consider what makes a clean, clear liquor:. Filtering. What happens when you shake the heck out of your vodka or gin in a stainless steel shaker of ice? You are filtering the living daylights out of it. Drop in a lemon slice, olive or splash of vermouth and you’ve pretty much nullified the difference between clean, expensive gin vs. a less-clean, cheaper one. And if you like your gin martini dirty, you could just as well filter your gin through a moldy sock because olive juice has a little bit of that sour flavor, anyway. In fact, the salty, tart olive juice will make it indistinguishable from a rock-bottom cheap bottle of gin. I’m not quite being fair to Taaka, however. I don’t believe it tastes like a rock-bottom gin at all. In fact, it’s distinguished juniper-flavor makes me think of it as a poor-man’s Bombay Sapphire and that my friends, is the Dirty Little Secret about the Gin Martini. I give Taaka Gin a thumbs up.

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