The Bombay Sapphire brand was first launched in 1987 by IDV. In 1997 Diageo sold the brand to Bacardi. The name originates from Gin's popularity in India during the British Raj. The sapphire portion of the name comes from the 'Star of Bombay' which is currently on display at the Smithsonian.
The unique Gin comes in a sapphire-colored bottle with a picture of Queen Vitoria on its label The recipe is comprised of 10 botanicals: almond, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise.
The neutral Spirit, from a separate supplier, is evaporated three times using a carterhead still, and vapor infused through a mesh basket containing the ten botanicals.
This techniques gives the Gin a lighter, more floral taste compared to other Gins that are crafted using a copper pot still. Water from Lake Vyrnwy brings the strength of Bombay Sapphire down to 40.0%.
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Bombay Sapphire Laverstoke Mill
Bombay Sapphire is made using a carter-head still, through a process called vapor infusion. There are only a few of these types of still left in the world, and Bombay Sapphire has three of them.
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There’s been a mill on the site in Laverstoke since 903 AD. Before it was producing award-winning Gin, the site was used as a water treatment facility, and before that, a paper factory. Bombay Sapphire production first began in 1761, when Thomas Dakin purchased a plot of land with the intention of using it to distil Gin.
The Dakin family bought a still a few decades later, and adapted it so the botanicals sat above the neutral base spirit, whereby the vapor would rise up and infuse with the botanicals, before cooling, condensing, and transforming into Gin.
The process, called vapor infusion, is still used to make Bombay Sapphire today. In the late 1800s, the Dakin family sold their distillery, and their recipe for vapor infused Gin, to G&J Greenalls – the second largest producer of spirits in the UK today.
It wasn’t until 1985 that a new Gin was launched, based on the Bombay Original Gin recipe, as a lighter style Gin to rival the popular Vodka brands of the time. Bombay Sapphire Gin as we know it today was born.
AddressLaverstoke Mill, London Road, Whitchurch RG28 7NR
A transcript for non-audio situations
We're here at Laverstoke Mill Distillery, the home of Bombay Sapphire. This is our state of the art Gin Distillery, which opened its doors to the public in 2014 following a three year renovation. The Mill has been carefully renovated with sensitivity to the heritage of the sites, but with a focus on sustainability. Laverstoke Mill brings together artisanal craft and state of the art technology under one roof.
Bombay Sapphire is distilled using a secret recipe dating back to 1761 in a process called vapor infusion, which we still use today. The process starts with the sourcing and selection of our ten exotic botanicals from around the world. Ivano Tonutti, a master of botanicals plays a vital role building close personal relationships with our suppliers over many years. Ivano hand selects only the best quality ingredients from each supplier and without this rigorous quality control, Bombay Gins would not benefit from the delicate and refined flavors extracted from each botanical to create perfect balance in the Spirit. Bombay Sapphire is the only London Dry Gin to use 100% vapor infusion in its distillation, and here is how the process works. The still is charged with a blend of water and neutral grain Spirit. As the Spirit is heated, it turns to vapour and passes up through the column. Our columns control the flow of vapour at the right temperature to give the perfect flavour profile of Bombay Sapphire. Each of the precious botanicals are carefully placed in to perforated copper baskets. The precise quantity of each of botanical is a secret only known to the master of botanicals and the master distiller.
Unlike other Gin distillations, the botanicals are not boiled directly in the Spirit, instead, the Spirit vapor passes through the copper basket infusing the botanicals to extract and capture the aromatic flavor and aromas. The vapor then moves to condensing column where cold water running through the pipes gently cools the vapor, returning it to liquid.
This is the Spirit stage where we can continuously nose and taste the display throughout the entire batch to ensure that the quality is always perfect. The vapor infusion and single thought processes are expensive and time-consuming. And although there are quicker, easier and cheaper ways to produce a London Dry Gin, we prefer to use the traditional methods championed by the Dakin family. The process allows more the bright, fresh and uplifting botanical flows and aromas to be captured in the Spirit giving us a perfectly balanced and tantalizing spectrum of flavor.