What Is Bombay Sapphire Gin?

A premium London dry gin you can rely on for a great drink

Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
Bacardi Limited

Bombay Sapphire Gin is one of the more popular premium gins on the market for a very good reason. This London dry gin is vapor-infused with a hand-selected bouquet of 10 botanicals. It one of those that is distinctly gin but not overwhelmingly flavored, which makes it ideal for mixing into any gin cocktail.

Beyond the mixable, aromatic taste, Bombay Sapphire is also reasonably priced, readily available, and instantly recognizable in its eye-catching blue bottle. It can easily become a reliable staple in any bar. This is also an ideal gin to introduce people to the spirit category because it is not overpowering but very appealing to any taste.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: Neutral grain spirit infused with 10 botanicals
  • Proof: 80–94 
  • ABV: 40–47%
  • Calories in a shot: 59
  • Origin: Hampshire, England
  • Taste: Dry, herbal, juniper, citrus, spice
  • Aged: Unaged
  • Serve: cocktails

What Is Bombay Sapphire Gin Made From?

Bombay Sapphire was first released in 1987 but was inspired by a recipe from 1761. Like most gin, it is a neutral grain spirit that is triple distilled and infused with botanicals. How Bombay uses the botanicals is unique. Instead of steeping the flavoring ingredients in the alcohol, the distillery uses a vapor infusion extraction.

The distillery originally employed two Carterhead stills from the 1830s and added two copper pot stills when production increased. Above the distillate, copper baskets hold the proprietary blend of botanicals. As the alcohol heats up and evaporates, the steam hits the botanicals, infusing it with flavor before it condenses back into a liquid that is cut to bottling strength. This approach is designed to give the gin a more delicate flavor.

Bombay was one of the first gin brands to celebrate their botanicals with full disclosure. Though the actual recipe is a well-kept secret entrusted to their "master of botanicals," Ivano Tonutti, they do reveal what the ingredient list includes. It is an international affair that includes Italian juniper berries and orris root, Spanish almonds and lemon peels, grains of paradise from West Africa, Chinese licorice, cassia bark from Indo-China, angelica from Saxony, Moroccan coriander, and cubeb berries from Java. The botanicals are nicely balanced and add a crispness to the spirit.

In the United States and duty-free markets, Bombay Sapphire is available at a strong 47 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 94 proof). It is an 80 proof gin in the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, and Australia.

In 2014, Bombay Sapphire opened a new distillery just outside of London, England. It is open to the public for tours and events. 

What Does Bombay Sapphire Taste Like?

Bombay Sapphire opens with a touch of juniper, ripe citrus, and hints of spice in the fragrance. The palate is exceptionally smooth and allows the botanicals to open up one by one and mix in the most lovely way with juniper slightly at the forefront. The finish is bolder but retains the spirit's brightness.

Types

Beyond Sapphire, Bombay distills two other expressions of gin. On occasion, the distillery releases limited edition gins as well.

  • Bombay Dry Gin: Uses eight of the botanicals found in Sapphire, skipping the grains of paradise and cubeb berries. It has a more pronounced juniper flavor and drier profile than Sapphire, making it a more traditional interpretation of London dry gin. It is bottled at 43 percent ABV (86 proof).
  • Bombay Sapphire East: Building on the botanical blend of Sapphire, this expression adds Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns. It is a complex gin with a focus on citrus and spice that's 42 percent ABV (84 proof).

How to Drink Bombay Sapphire Gin

To appreciate the botanicals in Bombay Sapphire, try it on the rocks or chilled and straight at least once. The water and cold open up the gin's bouquet and it's interesting to taste all three expressions this way. However, it is best appreciated in cocktails.

Bombay Sapphire's aromatic flavoring leads to a very mixable gin for any cocktail you desire. It is a perfect gin and tonic option and makes a superb martini. Both drinks gently enhance the gin, allowing you to enjoy it with little interference.

A favorite among bartenders, Bombay Sapphire works in classic cocktails just as well as it does in modern recipes. It's very versatile and pairs well with delicate herbs like lavender as well as a variety of fruits, from berries to citrus and pineapple to apple. It even mixes well with other spirits, including flavored vodka and whiskey.

Cocktail Recipes

When you open a bottle of Bombay Sapphire an entire world of fascinating gin cocktails is at your disposal. From simple highballs to sweet or dry martinis, it can work very well in nearly any recipe.