This month the company plans to “shake summer” with a selection of Caorunn G&Ts with variations of the perfect serve which will focus on some classic flavours, such as Angostura and bitter lemon. The aim is “to introduce some really unexpected, cutting edge combinations”. 

Clearly it’s all systems go in the heady ferment of the super-premium gin sector – and it’s much the same for the premiums. While Hendrick’s is credited with pioneering the upper echelons of the category – Bombay Sapphire, then in the IDV camp and now owned by Bacardi,  started the ball rolling for the premium gins and, much like Hendrick’s, it heads the sector.

“Bombay Sapphire remains the world’s number one premium gin by value for a third consecutive year,” says Joanna Botwood, Bombay Sapphire’s global marketing manager. “The popularity of Bombay continues to grow, nearly tripling in size since it was acquired by family-owned Bacardi.”

In its iconic blue stylish bottle, design has always taken centre stage when it comes to promotional support, but aside from the look of the bottle it was Bombay Sapphire which single handedly drew the world’s attention to the botanical mix, and the difference in taste that the final choice brings to the table. 

Juniper challenged

Up until the advent of Bombay the gin scene was dominated by very juniper-noted and tasting gins, the likes of Gordon’s and Tanqueray spring to mind, but here too Bombay was different, majoring as it did – and does – on coriander. This, along with its innovative production method using the Carterhead still, resulted in a much more subtle and fragrant-tasting gin. 

Bombay debuted in the US back in 1986 and, more than 20 years on, Bacardi is reasserting the importance of botanicals in gin, not only in its flagship but gin per se, via the launch of the Gin Aroma Kit. Dubbed Your Route to Expertise in Gin, the ‘kit’ comprises 24 aromas, packed in miniature bottles, that are associated with the spirit, including four juniper types, pine note; green note; herbaceous, waxy and woody resinous. 

All important stuff and launched late last year, it was a precursor to the Bombay Sapphire Infused With Imagination brand communication campaign, as Bacardi reinforces the brand’s history, from its taste to “innovative production process of Vapour Infusion to the launch  its blue bottle”.

“We have an exciting year coming for the brand. Infused With Imagination marks an exciting stage of the brand’s journey and a truly imaginative way of looking at our brand communications,” says Botwood. 

To be a gin. of course, juniper is a must – but then, as Bombay demonstrated, the world is your botanical oyster, and so it has proved. It’s these very botanicals and the different tastes they lend to gin which in turn have given producers a USP that cannot be matched by vodka – it’s all in the taste and that is what is so endlessly fascinating for bartenders and consumers alike, for no two gins taste the same.

For some there may be too many gins coming on to the market – but for others it all adds to the potpourri and overall to the interest of both trade and consumer. For some, too, it’s reminiscent of the explosion of vodka five to 10 years ago – but that said gin with its botanical alchemy has a lot more going for it.