London Dry Gin Round 2 – Bulldog (Champ) VS Bombay Sapphire (Challenger)

20130912_224817

Welcome to Round 2 of the Gin battle! Last time Bulldog won because of its complexity, but which one will prevail today? In the challenger’s corner we have Bombay Sapphire, another English distilled Gin with the global reach rivaling Beefeater. (Note: Bulldog’s description was copy+pasted from Round 1)

1) Bulldog London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$43 CAD @ Newport Village

  • Came into the market in 2007. (homepage)
  • 12 botanicals from 8 countries: Italian Juniper, German angelica, coriander seeds, Chinese licorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Seville lemons, CHINESE DRAGON EYE (longan), TURKISH WHITE POPPY SEEDS, ASIAN LOTUS LEAVES, ASIAN CASSIA, FRENCH LAVENDER. (differing ingredients in bold)
  • 90-95 points rated by Paul Pacult, Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Restaurant Magazine’s 2008 Spirit of the Year.

[VS]

2) Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Laverstoke, Hampshire, England), $28 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • Introduced in 1987. (wiki)
  • Flavour is obtained by the “hanging basket” method where alcohol vapours pass through a mesh basket containing the 10 ingredients below. Such method supposedly gives a cleaner, crisper, more balanced taste as opposed to boiling the ingredients with the mash (according to the back label on the bottle).
  • 10 botanicals from 7 countries: Italian juniper, German angelica root, Moroccan coriander seeds, Chinese liquorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Murcian lemon peel, Indo-China cassia bark, WEST AFRICAN GRAINS OF PARADISE, JAVA CUBEB BERRIES.

Criteria:

Nose: To my surprise, even though I chose Bulldog as a winner last round, this time it comes across as overly harsh and sharp on the senses. It makes my nasal cavity tingle too much for my liking. In contrast, Bombay is noticeably softer yet dampened, with floral notes of lavender leading the way. The winner is Bombay Sapphire.

Taste & Texture: Exotic fruit aromas of longan is nicely balanced with the lemon and florals in Bulldog. Furthermore, this elegance extends to the finish with soft, biting coriander and licorice. Bombay has a strange intial “grassy” quinine bitterness, transitioning into juniper and ending with massive amounts of peppery fire; This makes sense, attributable to the spicy qualities of grains of paradise and cubeb berries. In the end I prefer my gins to be first and foremost:  balanced; secondly: exciting; and finally, floral. Based on these three criteria, I choose Bulldog.

Final Notes:

  • Bulldog is more balanced, more SIPPABLE but is more expensive.
  • Bombay Sapphire has this initial grassy bitterness, and a MAJOR FIERY BACKEND.
  • Yes, I WOULD stock Bombay Sapphire in my bar based on its unique spicy character, it certainly has its place in gin-based cocktails.

WINNER = BULLDOG London Dry Gin (Round 1 & 2 champ)

20130912_22484020130912_224849

Used to be new but is now old News Flash: Bombay Sapphire East! It has two additional ingredients, Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns. I have a bottle that will be reviewed in the future.

Bombay_Sapphire_EAST_round_

London Dry Gin Round 1 – Beefeater VS Bulldog

20130831_215926

Tonight’s matchup is the well-known Beefeater Gin versus the relatively new Bulldog Gin (released in 2007). Both are London Dry (wiki) as well as highly acclaimed. I should note that Beefeater is in the average-price category whereas Bulldog is top shelf, in fact more than twice the price (at least here in Vancouver). Keep in mind that comparing any two gins is like comparing BBQ sauces, or salsa, cars for that matter. It all depends on what flavour you’re looking for since each company’s recipe is unique. I’m basing this comparison on answering the question: “If I could stock only one London Dry Gin in my bar, which one would it be?”

1) Beefeater London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (London, England) ~$24 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • The manufacturer has been in business since 1820, this gin was first introduced in 1876. (wiki)
  • 9 botanicals: juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, licorice, almonds, orris root, SEVILLE ORANGES, and lemon peel.
  • Awarded one double gold, two gold, two silver and two bronze medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition between 2006 and 2012.

[VS]

2) Bulldog London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$50 CAD @ W.16th/Legacy

  • Came into the market in 2007, (homepage)
  • 12 botanicals from 8 countries: Italian Juniper, German angelica, coriander seeds, Chinese licorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Seville lemons, CHINESE DRAGON EYE (longan), TURKISH WHITE POPPY SEEDS, ASIAN LOTUS LEAVES, ASIAN CASSIA, FRENCH LAVENDER. (differing ingredients in bold)
  • 90-95 points rated by Paul Pacult, Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Restaurant Magazine’s 2008 Spirit of the Year.

Criteria:

Nose: Nosing the Beefeater, it has strong, sharper juniper up front with very detectable tingly alcohol followed by nasal burn. Bulldog exhibits less juniper and more of a softer, creamy, almond, nuttier scent. It’s almost milky in fact, like orgeat. The alcohol detection of Bulldog is less pronounced. Based on aromatic smoothness, I pick Bulldog.

Taste & Texture: (Since I’ve already cheated and know of the ingredients beforehand, I’m subconsciously looking for said ingredients in each respective gin. Anyhow, let’s get on with it.) Beefeater drinks very citrusy and sweet (5/10) up front, juniper in the mids, light spicy bitter coriander/licorice in the finish. Alcohol burn is there but manageable due to the intense orange and lemon aromas. Bulldog drinks slightly thicker, more tea-like (lotus leaf), less juniper, but definitely way spicier with more licorice and roundness in warmth in the backend. I actually feel both are winners in that they are both balanced, distinct in flavour profile, and easily drinkable. But if I could only chose one, I would choose Bulldog due to the fact it incorporates exotic ingredients that tickle my palate.

Final Notes:

  • Beefeater is all about CITRUS (ORANGE/LEMON), and has a fuller body.
  • Bulldog is slightly smoother, MORE COMPLEX and has more enticing ingredients.
  • Both are winners (I would stock both my bar)

WINNER = Bulldog London Dry Gin

20130831_220143 20130831_220317 20130831_220401