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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%.
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.