Brand Story – Bombay Sapphire Gin
By Tom C - 7 years ago

If you’re a gin lover, it’s quite possible the sighting of a light blue square edged bottle could leave a twinkle in your eye in anticipation of your next G&T. So where did it all begin for the globally loved gin brand, Bombay Sapphire?

The true history stretches all the way back to 1761 when a young entrepreneur, Thomas Dakin, built a distillery in North West England. Taking full advantage of the industrial revolution and ready supply of botanicals, he spent a year creating his precious recipe and distillery process.

Fast forward 200 years or so to 1957, a New York based lawyer felt there was an opportunity for a new gin that embodied 1920’s elegance. His wife was British, so he was privy all things Gin. After much research, he concluded that the 1761 recipe and vapour infusion process first created by Dakin, was what he was looking for.

The original name ‘Bombay Dry Gin’, was inspired by the popularity of gin in India during the days of the British Raj. The logo featured Queen Victoria who was the epitome of Englishness, a tribute to Gin’s English popularity.

Bombay Dry Gin was officially launched in 1960 achieving annual sales of 10,000 which grew to 1000,000 by the third year. They now exceed 3.3 million cases per year.

The Bombay Gin brand was then purchased by a company called I.D.V (now called Diageo) who wanted to improve on the current product to create game-changing new gin! They could foresee a new luxury product that would revitalise the gin category.

A man named Ian Hamilton, was tasked with creating a premium version of Bombay Dry Gin, using the original 1761 recipe as a base, then finding and adding new botanicals. After much experimenting, he eventually settled on two exotic varieties of Pepper, adding liveliness along with floral and spice notes.

The name ‘Sapphire’ was added which was inspired by the famous ‘Stone of Bombay’ a stunning violet blue sapphire discovered in Sri Lanka. The gem’s colour inspired the square translucent blue bottle, a simple design yet one that cemented the luxury positioning and now iconic identity.

When the new ‘Bombay Sapphire’ product launched in 1987 it was an instant success and has been attributed to re-invigorating the gin category worldwide, and paving the way for a surge of new brands we now see in the market.

Due to a merger, Diageo was forced to shed brands which resulted in the sales of Bombay Spirits to Bacardi in 1998. Despise the change in ownership, production of Bombay products still remain true to the original production methods from 1761.

True fans will know, that all gin uses juniper berries as the main ingredient, however there is enormous diversity in how different gins taste. The skilled distillers at Bombay Sapphire have skilfully balanced a total of 14 botanical flavours to create their premium product and here they are;

Juniper Berries

Lemon Peel

Coriander Seeds

Angelica (root)

Orris (Irish Root)

Bergamot Peel


Grains of Paradise

Cubeb Berries

Cassia Bark



Ambrette Seeds

Black Peppercrons

We hope next time you sip on a G&T, you have a new found appreciation for it’s delicate mix and rich history.

Source: Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers

Tom C