Bombay Sapphire

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Bombay Sapphire
Bombay Sapphire - bouteilles.JPG
ManufacturerBombay Spirits Co., Ltd.
Country of originEngland
Alcohol by volume40% (UK, The Nordics, Cont. Europe, Canada, Australia)
47% (US and export/duty-free)
Proof (US)80 (UK, The Nordics, Cont. Europe, Canada, Australia)
94 (US and export/duty-free)
Related productsBombay Original Dry

Bombay Sapphire is a brand of gin that was first launched in 1986 by English wine-merchant IDV. In 1997 Diageo sold the brand to Bacardi.[1] Its name originates from the popularity of gin in India during the British Raj and "Sapphire" refers to the violet-blue Star of Bombay which was mined from Sri Lanka and is now 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: almond, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise. Alcohol brought in from another supplier is evaporated three times 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 created using a copper pot still. Water from Lake Vyrnwy is added to bring the strength of Bombay Sapphire down to 40.0% (UK, the Nordics, several continental European markets, Canada and Australia).

The 47.0% version is the standard for sale at duty-free stores in all markets.


In 2011, plans were announced to move the manufacturing process to a new facility at Laverstoke Mill in Whitchurch, Hampshire, including the restoration of the former Portal's paper mill at the proposed site, and the construction of a visitor centre.[3]

Planning permission was granted in February 2012, and the centre opened to the public in the autumn of 2014.[4][5] The visitor centre included a new construction by Thomas Heatherwick of two glasshouses for plants used as botanicals in the production of Bombay Sapphire gin.[6]

Production and bottling of the drink is contracted out by Bacardi to G&J Greenall.[7]


Three of the Bombay varieties

Bacardi also markets Bombay Original London Dry Gin (or Bombay Original Dry). Eight botanical ingredients are used in the production of the Original Dry variety, as opposed to the ten in Bombay Sapphire. Wine Enthusiast preferred it to Bombay Sapphire.[8]

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 most tonic water.

A special edition of Bombay gin called Star of Bombay was produced in 2015 for the UK market. It is bottled at 47.5% and is distilled from grain. It features bergamot and ambrette seeds in harmony with Bombay's signature botanicals. This version has later been extended to several other markets.

Bombay Bramble is a variety infused with blackberries and raspberries, and bottled at 37.5% ABV.

In summer 2019, Bacardi launched a limited edition gin called Bombay Sapphire English Estate, which features three additional English sourced botanicals: Pennyroyal Mint, rosehip and hazelnut. It is bottled at 41%.

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 began 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 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 various degrees of 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 favourable "expert" reviews.[9]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Bombay Sapphire was used in the video work Victoria Day (Bombay Sapphire), 2002 by contemporary artists Marina Roy and Abbas Akhavan.
  • Long time sports radio personality Jim Rome is known for his love of Bombay Sapphire Gin, which he often refers to as "the Magic Blue".
  • American hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa and his "Taylor Gang" are also known for their love of Bombay Sapphire dry gin.[10]
  • Former Las Vegas, Nevada mayor Oscar Goodman is known for his love of Bombay Sapphire Gin, and he has served as a spokesman for the brand.
  • American musician Robert Earl Keen references "a quart of Bombay gin" in the song "The Road Goes on Forever".
  • American YouTuber/streamer Etika was known for drinking Bombay Sapphire, among other alcoholic drinks, during streams as a way to celebrate donations.[11]
  • In the Netflix series Bojack Horseman a bottle strongly resembling Bombay Sapphire can be seen in Princess Carolyn's office.
  • British rapper Scarlxrd has shown his love for Bombay Sapphire in music videos early on in his career, such as “Glx up


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b Bombay Sapphire
  3. ^ "Gin firm's tonic for historic mill (From Andover Advertiser)". 13 May 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Gintime Lowdown with Will Brix". 23 October 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  5. ^ A first glimpse of the Bombay Sapphire distillery Gintime 19 September 2014,
  6. ^ "Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke, UK". Heatherwick Studio. Heatherwick Studio. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  7. ^ Richard Haffner. "G&J Greenall eyes acquisitions, plots ad spend". Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  8. ^ The Original Bombay Dry Gin listing on Wine Enthusiast:
  9. ^ Bombay Sapphire listing on Proof66: Archived 2012-10-04 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Mlynar, Phillip (2 July 2016). "A Hip-Hop Head's Guide to Drinking". First We Feast. Retrieved 27 August 2019.

External links[edit]