Two weeks ago, gin lovers across the United States celebrated National Gin & Tonic day with their glasses half full. April 9 also marked a special partnership for the leading gin brand, Bombay Sapphire, as it revealed its partnership with Bill Nye.
“The Science Guy,” as he’s often referenced, launched a few firsts for the brand. First, he debuted the brand’s first ready-to-drink Gin & Tonic cans—a sippable option for those who aren’t interested in crafting cocktails. The cocktails are available in two options—one that’s a standard cocktail and one that’s “light” for fewer calories. Then, he starred in a series of three Bombay Sapphire videos that uncover the science behind why a Gin & Tonic is so refreshing.
To hear more about Bombay Sapphire’s new product, its partnership with Bill Nye, and how she’s enjoying her Gin & Tonic today, we spoke with Dr. Anne Brock—the brand’s master distiller, and a scientist herself.
WHITEWALL: In 2017, we visited the Bombay Sapphire distillery in Laverstoke, UK and got a firsthand look at the magic behind the distillation process. What is your role at the brand, and in this facility in particular?
DR. ANNE BROCK: Overseeing such a large team and large amount of production keeps me constantly on my toes. I am accountable for every drop of Bombay Sapphire that is produced and every bottle needs to be up to the high standard of such an established brand. When using the ten all-natural botanicals that go into every bottle, one batch may not give up the flavors the way they’re supposed to. I make sure the distilling team develops their noses and tastes, so the gin gets out the door right. It’s a combination of reference and memory. Bombay has a unique and distinctive taste as a result of our vapour infusion distillation process and signature mix of bright, fresh botanicals. Every month we say, “this is Bombay Sapphire” and every batch is tested against that. We also have laboratory methods, but my nose and my knowledge are just as important. It’s been an incredibly awarding challenge to work for such an established brand like Bombay Sapphire.
WW: How did your creative journey in spirits lead you to Bombay Sapphire?
AB: I’ve always loved gin and have been interested in the category, but the role of Master Distiller wasn’t the career plan I originally planned for myself. As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a doctor and went to school for it. I quickly realized that field of work was not for me and dropped out, becoming a bartender. While working behind the bar, I realized I could combine my interest in the spirits industry and aptitude for chemistry into a full time career. So, I ended up going back to school and graduated with a PhD in Chemistry. My first job in the industry ended up being the lead distiller for a small gin brand where I became fully immersed in gin and discovered my love for the versatile spirit.
WW: As someone who works for the brand, what do you encourage those unfamiliar with the brand to know about Bombay Sapphire that is unlike other gin brands?
AB: I’m incredibly lucky to work at Laverstoke. It was designed to high specifications and was a winner of the BREEAM award. My team and I have been able to install several sustainable processes to ensure we’re using the minimum amounts of gas, water and electricity. This past year, water usage was a big focus for me and the team. We now have a rainwater-harvesting system and flow-restricted water devices set up, which reduce our main water usage a significant amount. We have heavy rainfall throughout the winter here, so it’s fantastic to be able to leverage that.
Additionally, last month, after decades spent carefully building partnerships with farmers and suppliers, Bombay Sapphire will be the first major gin to be made with 100% sustainably sourced botanicals. Bacardi Limited and Bombay Sapphire Master of Botanicals, Ivano Tonutti, have ensured not only the quality of ingredients but also for the sustainable future for farmers, their communities, and the environment for generations to come.
WW: Can you tell us a bit about the first-ever Bombay & Tonic ready-to-drink can?
AB: Following the launch of the Bombay Sapphire & Tonic RTD cocktail in the UK last year, we were excited to announce the launch of the Bombay Sapphire & Tonic and the Bombay Sapphire & Light Tonic across the U.S. on National Gin & Tonic Day.
With the launch of Bombay Sapphire & Tonic and Bombay Sapphire & Light Tonic, Bombay Sapphire sought to provide consumers with options to appeal to different tastes and drinking preferences. Both RTD cocktails feature the brand’s heralded, vapor-infused London Dry Gin with the perfect balance of tonic water and no artificial flavors or colors, with the “light: variant including only 90 calories and 0 grams of sugar. The sleek, conveniently sized blue cans are reminiscent of the iconic sapphire blue Bombay Sapphire bottle.
Since the onset of the pandemic, off-premise has been a large focus for Bombay, with many consumers searching for convenient, quality drink options while at home. However, Bombay Sapphire will always be committed to continuing to support our trade partners and on-premise ventures as in-person dining returns. The Bombay RTD cocktails are perfect for on-the-go drinking. Whether it be a trip to the beach, barbeque, or even an at-home gathering, Bombay Sapphire aspired to create a ready-to-drink product that fit any occasion conveniently and met the standard of our world-famous gin.
WW: Why did the brand want to partner with Bill Nye to launch this release?
AB: We knew that Bill Nye was a big fan of Bombay Sapphire and appreciated the bright, clean taste of our gin. We thought that it would be interesting to invite him into our world to explore why the brand is such a hit. In a series of three videos, Bill uncovers why the specific ten botanicals used in the vapor-infusing production process of Bombay Sapphire pair so well with the flavor of premium tonic water to create the perfect, balanced Bombay and Tonic.
Over the past year, Bill’s popularity has skyrocketed as people have turned to his social feeds for inspiration during the pandemic. With his natural passion for the brand, we knew that he would be the perfect partner to communicate the perfect combination of ingredients, process, passion that goes into creating the fresh and balanced gin.
WW: Did Bill Nye uncover any fun facts about the chemistry in a Gin & Tonic that you were surprised by?
AB: Yes! Bill and I had the opportunity to connect before the launch and it was fascinating to hear him speak so passionately about bubbles or “bubbletivity” as he’s coined it. He mentioned that if you look closely, you’ll see the perfect bubble ratio, that occurs when the Bombay Sapphire gin is blended with specially crafted tonic. It changes the viscosity of the liquid and creates perfectly persistent bubbles. Soft, silky and sophisticated bubbles. Fascinating!
WW: How are you enjoying your Gin & Tonic? Any twists?
AB: You can’t go wrong with a classic Bombay Sapphire & Tonic. I like to add a lemon wheel instead of a lime to bring out the Spanish lemon peel flavor, one of the ten botanicals infused into every bottle of Bombay Sapphire.