Bombay Sapphire

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Bombay Sapphire
Type Gin
Manufacturer Bombay Spirits Co., Ltd.
Distributor Bacardi
Country of origin England
Introduced 1987
Alcohol by volume 40% (UK, Canada, Australia)
47% (US & Export)
Proof 80 (UK, Canada, Australia)
94 (US & Export)
Colour Clear
Related products Bombay Original Dry

Bombay Sapphire is a brand of gin owned by Bacardi that was first launched in 1987 by IDV. In 1997 Diageo sold the brand to Bacardi.[1] 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.[2] Bombay Sapphire is marketed in a flat-sided, sapphire-coloured bottle that bears a picture of Queen Victoria on the label.[2]

The flavouring of the drink comes from a recipe of ten ingredients (which the bottle's label boasts as "10 exotic botanicals"): 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 gives a lighter, more floral gin rather than the more-common 'punchy' 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% (UK, Canada, Australia).

In 2011 it was announced that the company is planning to move the distillation process to a new facility in Laverstoke, Hampshire. The plans include the restoration of the former Portal's paper mill, and the construction of a visitor centre.[3] In February 2012, they received planning permission for the site and the centre is scheduled to be opened in Spring 2014.[4] Production and bottling of the drink is contracted out by Bacardi to G&J Greenall.[5]


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 veriety as opposed to the ten in Bombay Sapphire. Wine Enthusiast has called Bombay Sapphire better.[6]

In September 2011, Bombay Sapphire East was launched in test markets in New York and Las Vegas. 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.

Design connection[edit]

The brand started a series of design collaborations. Their first step into the design world was a series of advertisements featuring work from currently popular designers. Their works, varying from martini glasses to tiles and cloth patterns, are labelled as “Inspired by Bombay Sapphire”. The campaign featured designers such as Marcel Wanders, Yves Behar, Karim Rashid, Ulla Darni, and Dror Benshetrit and performance artist Jurgen Hahn.

From the success of this campaign, the company started a series of events and sponsored locations. The best known is the Bombay Sapphire Designer Glass Competition, held each year, where design students from all over the world can participate by designing their own “inspired” martini cocktail glass. The finalists (one from each participating country) are then invited to the yearly Salone del Mobile, an international design fair in Milano, where the winner is chosen.

Bombay Sapphire also endorses glass artists and designers with the Bombay Sapphire Prize, which is awarded every year to an outstanding design which features glass. Bombay Sapphire also showcases the designers' work in the Bombay Sapphire endorsed blue room, which is actually a design exhibition touring the world each year.

From 2008 the Bombay Sapphire Designer Glass Competition final will be held at 100% Design in London, UK and the Bombay Sapphire Prize will take place in Milan at the Salone Del Mobile.


Bombay Sapphire has been reviewed by several outside spirit ratings organizations to mixed success. Recently, it was awarded a score of 92 (on a 100 point scale) from the Beverage Testing Institute. Ratings aggregator categorizes the Sapphire as a Tier 2 spirit, indicating highly favorable "expert" reviews.[7]

Cultural References[edit]

  • Bombay Sapphire was used in the video work Victoria Day (Bombay Sapphire), 2002 by contemporary artists Marina Roy and Abbas Akhavan.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Bombay Sapphire
  3. ^ "Gin firm’s tonic for historic mill (From Andover Advertiser)". 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Gintime Lowdown with Will Brix". 23 October 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Richard Haffner. "G&J Greenall eyes acquisitions, plots ad spend". Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  6. ^ Bombay Original London Dry Gin listing on Proof66:
  7. ^ Bombay Sapphire listing on Proof66:

External links[edit]