header home Backbar Bar Station Recipe Database Month's Feature "Drink-o-pedia" Mixology Contact

Bombay Sapphire

Bombay Sapphire
London Dry Gin


By Robert Plotkin

Introduced in 1988, Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin quickly shot to the top the charts as the category's first super-premium entry. Now more than 20 years later, the award-winning brand continues to be the fastest growing premium gin in the world. A popular favorite of the cocktail craving public, Bombay Sapphire richly deserves its universal ranking as a "must have" brand.

The gin is produced at the Greenall Distillery in Warrington with a proprietary blend of ten aromatics. The botanical mix includes Italian juniper berries and orris root, almonds and lemon peels from Spain, licorice from China, Moroccan coriander seeds, cassia bark from Indo-China, cubeb berries from Java, West African grains of paradise, and angelica root from Saxony. All of the ingredients are crushed or grated prior to distillation to fully release their flavors.

One of the secrets behind the gin's phenomenal success involves the singular way that it is distilled. During the final small batch distillation, rising vapors in the still are passed through a basket holding the above aromatic blend. It's a delicate process that requires specially adapted Carterhead copper pot stills, of which there are only two, and both are used exclusively for making Bombay gin. Sapphire is bottled at 94 proof.

The gin is crystal clear with a plush medium-weight body and an enticing nose of spice, piney juniper and a refreshing splash of citrus. It has a complex palate that fills the mouth with juniper in the forefront, followed by peppery, herbal flavors with brilliant citrus notes. The finish is spicy, warm and satisfying.

Bombay Sapphire's vibrancy and depth of flavor make it a franchise player behind the bar. While most frequently showcased in Martinis and specialty cocktails, Sapphire has enough character to shine when mixed with tonic or grapefruit juice.

The product's name was inspired by the "Star of Bombay," a 60-carat sapphire discovered in Sri Lanka and given to silent movie star Mary Pickford by her husband, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. She later bequeathed the jewel to the Smithsonian Institute.

Bombay Original London Dry Gin originated in 1761. To this day the gin is distilled in Carterhead copper pot stills according to the same blend of 8 botanicals and aromatics. The 86-proof result is a magnificently dry and flavorful spirit. Bombay Original has a satiny lightweight body and a compact juniper, spice and citrus bouquet. It washes over the palate with hardly a trace of heat and slowly subsides into a flavor-enriched finale. The singular character of Bombay Original is ideally enjoyed chilled, or better yet with a splash of crisp tonic water.