Bombay Sapphire is a London Dry Gin that first hit the shelves in 1987. It is distilled by Bombay Spirits company at Laverstoke Mill, a former paper mill located in Laverstoke in Hampshire, England. Allegedly, the original recipe dates back to 1761.
At 40% to 47% vol., the spirit is flavored with a selection of ten different botanicals. Despite being a traditional London Dry Gin, the taste is comparably light and floral, yet, rather distinct. It's a perfect choice for mixed drinks and cocktails and is also beginner friendly when tasted neat.
- Produced by: Bombay Spirits Company, a subsidiary of Bacardi
- Distilled at: Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, England
- Style: London Dry Gin
- ABV: 40% (UK & Europe) - 47%(US)
- Spirit base: Neutral (grain) spirit
- Taste: Juniper, floral, citrus, herbs
- Best served: Gin and Tonic
The Gin is made from 10 selected botanicals. These include almonds, angelica root, cassia bark, coriander, cubeb pepper, grains of paradise, juniper berries, lemon peel, licorice root, and orris root.
The true secret of Bombay Sapphire Gin, though, isn't the choice of botanicals but how the brand uses them. Let's have a closer look at the production process of the Gin.
How it's made
Supposedly, the recipe of Bombay Sapphire Gin is based on an old recipe from 1761. Consequently, the botanical selection is quite traditional, although the way Bombay extracts the flavors sounds pretty modern (spoiler: it isn't).
Typically botanicals are steeped in neutral grain spirit to infuse flavors. The technique Bombay Sapphire uses to flavor its alcohol base is called vapor infusion extraction.
What sounds complex is actually pretty straightforward. Instead of flavoring the Gin before distillation, it is infused with the blend of botanicals during that process.
When distilling Gin or other alcohol, the spirit base is heated to extract the alcohol from the liquid. For Bombay Sapphire, the mix of botanicals goes into copper baskets placed above the base spirit. When the alcohol evaporates, it hits the botanicals in these baskets and is infused before turning liquid again.
Bombay explains that this approach leads to a more delicate flavor compared to many other traditional London Dry Gins.
The best way to identify the different aromas and flavors of Bombay Sapphire is by sipping it neat or slightly chilled.
On the nose, it is a complex. The pepper note stands out, and you can detect the coriander and citrus aromas.
On the palate, the Gin is initially very mild, with little flavor. Soon after, gentle heat and slightly spicy flavors, lemon, and earthy floral notes emerge. There are also hints of juniper on the back of the palate.
The brand is best known for the standard Bombay Sapphire Gin, which comes in a distinct and bright blue colored bottle. But they also offer other expressions, each with a unique taste and purpose.
This is the classic and bestselling expression of the English Gin brand. Bombay Sapphire is known for being one of the most affordable, budget-friendly, and still modern London Dry Gins.
Bombay Dry Gin
This Dry Gin is a London Dry, just like the Sapphire expression. Instead of 10 botanicals, it only contains 8, leaving out cubeb pepper and grains of paradise. The taste is much closer to the classic London Dry flavor profile with dominant juniper flavors and a more pronounced dryness.
Bombay Sapphire East
Sapphire East delivers what it promises. The classic selection of botanicals is enhanced with Asian herbs and spices like Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese peppercorn. The taste of the Gin is both more citrus-forward and spicier than the classic product.
Star of Bombay
The name refers to a famous 182-carat sapphire from Sri Lanka, known by the name Star of Bombay. Like Sapphire East, this Gin also adds two botanicals to the classic recipe: Bergamot orange peel from Italy and Ambrette seed from Ecuador. The flavors are similar to the original Bombay Sapphire but slightly more intense.
Bombay regularly releases new and exciting Gin options. Bombay Bramble (blackberry and raspberry flavored), Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru (lemon, mandarin, and sweet orange), and Bombay Citron Pressé (lemon flavored) are the latest additions to the lineup.
What is the difference between Bombay Sapphire and Bombay Dry Gin?
Both Gins belong to the category of London Dry Gins and use similar yet not the same botanicals. Bombay Sapphire uses ten botanicals, of which only eight are in the Dry Gin. -As mentioned above, Cubeb pepper and grains of paradise are missing.
Both products are distilled at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, England. They're made from the same grain spirit base, and both use the vapor infusion technique to flavor the Gin.
However, the ABV is slightly different. The Sapphire expression clocks in at 40% (in Europe and the UK) or 47% (in the US), while Bombay Dry Gin only contains 37.5% (Europe & UK) or 43% (USA) of alcohol.
The taste is different, as well: Bombay Dry Gin has a classic flavor profile similar to other traditional London Dry Gins. Bombay Sapphire, on the other hand, is lighter, sweeter, and more floral.
How much is Bombay Sapphire Gin?
Bombay is one of the most affordable premium Gins out there. The 750ml is often available for less than $20. You can find the average prices for the other types of Bombay Sapphire Gin in the chart below.
|Bombay Sapphire Gin||750ml||47%||94||$15 - $20|
|Bombay Dry Gin||750ml||43%||86||$15 - $20|
|Bombay Sapphire East Gin||750ml||42%||84||$20 - $30|
|Star of Bombay Gin||750ml||47.5%||95||$35 - $45|
|Bombay Bramble Gin||750ml||43%||86||$20 - $30|
|Bombay Citron Pressé||750ml||37.5%||75||$25 - $35|
|Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru||750ml||47||94||$40 - $50|
The history of Bombay Sapphire began in 1760, when Thomas Dakin acquired a site to distill Gin in Warrington, England. Dakin, widely known as the Father of English Gin, created a recipe that contained the ten botanicals Bombay still uses today.
Commercial production started a year later, in 1761. The reason for this was an extremely poor grain harvest in 1760. Due to this, the government prohibited the production of Gin and made Dakin wait until 1761. 
In 1831, the Dakin family purchased a still and invented the craft distillation process, still known today as vapor steam infusion. Bombay Sapphire still faithfully uses this process today.
The brand as it is now was launched in 1986 by an English wine merchant who operated under the name IDV (International Distillers & Vintners). At that time, the wine merchant belonged to the Grand Metropolitan Group.
When Grand Metropolitan and Guinness merged to create Diageo in 1997, one of the first actions was to sell the Bombay Sapphire brand to Bacardi. The reason for selling was to reduce debt, as Diageo stated in the New York Times.
Until 2013 Bacardi still produced the Gin at the distillery in Warrington but moved production to Laverstoke in 2014. Next to the new distillery at Laverstoke Mill, they also created a fantastic visitor center. If you're interested in how exactly they turned the old paper mill into a Gin distillery, here's a beautiful slideshow of the construction process.
How to drink Bombay Sapphire
The best way to enjoy this Gin is in a Gin and Tonic. Served in a perfect Gin to Tonic ratio of 1:3 and garnished with a lemon slice and fresh mint.
To get the most out of the Highball, pair the Gin with a premium tonic water that matches its flavors. My preferred options are Fever-Tree Indian tonic water and 1724 Tonic - or Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic for a more herbaceous G&T.
The Gin is also an excellent choice in many mixed drinks. Its classic and clean taste, with just a hint of juniper, makes it a perfect Gin that won't overpower the other ingredients. Here are some drinks you should try to make with it:
You can store Bombay Sapphire at room temperature in a dark and dry place. You don't need to put it in the fridge. However, keep it away from direct sunlight.
Yes, you can drink Bombay Sapphire Gin neat or on the rocks. Its light and elegant flavor profile make it an ideal sipping Gin for beginners.
Yes, it is. No honey or similar animal products are used during production. Bombay Sapphire is 100% vegan-friendly.
Yes! just like most Gins, this product is also recognized as gluten-free.