Bombay Sapphire is a brand of gin that was first launched in 1987 by International Distillers and Vintners, which became Diageo. In 1997 Diageo sold the brand to Bacardi. Its name originates from gin’s popularity in India during the British Raj and the sapphire in question is the Star of Bombay on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Bombay Sapphire is marketed in a flat-sided, sapphire-coloured bottle that bears a picture of Queen Victoria on the label.
The flavouring of the drink comes from a recipe of ten ingredients: almond, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise. The spirit is triple distilled using a carterhead still, and the alcohol vapours are passed through a mesh/basket containing the ten botanicals, in order to gain flavour and aroma. This is felt to give the gin a lighter, more floral taste compared to those gins that are distilled using a copper pot still. Water from Lake Vyrnwy is added to bring the strength of Bombay Sapphire down to 40.0%. In the USA its 47.o% ABV.
In 2011, plans were announced to move the distillation process to a new facility in Laverstoke, Hampshire, including the restoration of the former Portal’s paper mill at the proposed site, and the construction of a visitor centre. Planning permission was granted in February 2012, and the centre opened to the public in the autumn of 2014. Production and bottling of the drink is contracted out by Bacardi to G&J Greenall.
Bacardi also markets Bombay Original London Dry Gin (or Bombay Original Dry). Eight botanical ingredients are used in the production of the Original Dry Gin variety as opposed to the ten in Bombay Sapphire.
In September 2011, Bombay Sapphire East was launched. This variety has another two botanicals, lemongrass and black peppercorns, in addition to the original ten. It is bottled at 42% and was designed to counteract the sweetness of American tonic water.
A Special edition of Bombay Gin was produced in 2015 for the UK Market. It is called Bombay Star, is bottled at 47.5% and is distilled from grain.