In Process: Bombay Sapphire Gin Truffles
Last year, I traveled to London for the filming of The Culture of Quality: The Artisans Journey. Included in the episode was an in depth look at how Bombay Sapphire creates their famously fragrant gin. It is always a treat and an inspiration to witness the craft of other artisans. There are similarities between Vosges Haut-Chocolat truffles and Bombay Sapphire gin starting with the selection and infusion of delicate and robust, worldly botanicals. Also, in producing each indulgence, there is a precise process that requires adherence to stringent specifications so that subtle nuances of flavor are achieved. It was natural that we work together, finding a place where our products and processes to overlap.
Bombay Sapphire is unique thanks to their complex, vapor distillation process. They infuse the spirit with ten botanicals gathered from all over the world. The names and images of these special flavor-boosters are found on the sides of their signature blue bottles.
Their botanicals are placed in a perforated, metal donut-shaped basket. When distilling the gin, it is heated to a vapor and floats up through the botanical basket, creating what they call vapor distillation. The gin then condenses once it passes through the basket back into liquid form. There is a small door that opens into a chamber where freshly vapor distilled liquid flows in a thin stream. Highly trained and experienced distillers smell the gin and if the aroma is on target, they keep the spirit flowing. If not, they adjust the botanical blend in the basket to perfection.
One of Bombay’s botanicals is a unique ingredient that I used regularly while in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris – angelica root. The green, candied angelica root was my favorite sweet to snack on! We chopped it and garnished cakes or added texture to fillings. The root looks a bit like celery, though it tastes of amaretto or cherry. Most unique is the texture, a bit gummy and slightly crunchy.
In my quest to create truffles highlighting Bombay Sapphire gin, I am reinforcing the botanical flavors with added ingredients. Good candied angelica root is proving hard to find stateside. My first batch did not carry the flavor I fondly remembered. I am working on sourcing a better specimen from England or France.
I am also experimenting with almond paste, lemon and grains of paradise. This is still the early stages of my creative process. Tasting, tweaking, tasting, tweaking until the flavors marry just so. Gin and chocolate is a sure bet, I think I even prefer it over Q tonic.