The Bombay Sapphire Flavour Experience

Smelly molecules, anyone?

Dr. George Dodd (stage left) and David Paskins

As London Cocktail Week rolls on, BarLifeUK were particularly curious about the Bombay Sapphire Flavour Experience event, which makes use of bespoke Gin Aroma Kits that you may have heard about.

We duly trundled along to Shoreditch Studios yesterday and enjoyed a thoroughly engrossing hour in the company of David Paskins and Dr. George Dodd, a flavour expert who, among many other things, has researched ‘smelly molecules’ at Warwick University.

The premise of the session is to encourage ‘mindful smelling’, particularly with regard to gin. This principle is then developed to introduce a set or words that will help both bartenders and customers describe what they find in a gin, and to help them get what they want from cocktails.

David Paskins kicked the session off by describing this process and leading a brief tutored tasting of an Aviation cocktail. He encouraged audience members to describe what they could smell and taste, and to explore the words they would use to describe it.

Dr. Dodd then took over, starting his part of the presentation by telling the story of ‘Smelly Kelly’, a professional smeller from Ireland.

The Bombay Sapphire Gin Aroma Kit

As the story goes, Kelly was called to America to investigate an unpleasant smell that once plagued the New York Subway. Taking one sniff, he announced: “You have elephants down there. Indian elephants.”

This was understandably met with disbelief by subway officials. However upon investigation, it was found that a traveling circus, which included several Indian elephants, had been in town and rain water had indeed washed their ‘smell’ down through the water table and into the subway tunnels.

Having introduced the power of an educated nose, Dr. Dodd asked the audience to open their Gin Aroma Kits. Inside can be found 24 numbered vials, containing liquids that smell of various botanicals.

The rest of the session consisted of dipping perfumer’s strips into the vials, smelling them and then tasting various juniper spirits and gins. Having the different aromas isolated on a strip makes it much more easy to find them in the composite smell of a gin, and even BarLifeUK, who by our own admission do not have ninja pallets, found the individual botanicals leaping out at us during the gin tasting phase.

Everyone in the audience was allowed to keep their aroma kit, and encouraged to experiment with it further in our own time. Having watched the audience become totally absorbed during the Flavour Experience, I have no doubt they will all be doing just that.

Should the Bombay Sapphire Flavour Experience come to your manor, BarLifeUK heartily recommend you book a place.