Launched in 1987 by GrandMet, Bombay Sapphire has established itself on the world stage as a prominent premium gin brand through a combination of impressive marketing, a recipe dating back to 1761 and luck.
Unlike many gins, which the spirit is boiled directly with the botanicals that give gin its unique flavor, Bombay Sapphire relies on a process of vapor infusion to impart a subtle and gentle aromatic flavor onto the spirit. The botanicals are suspended in bundles above the still in a copper basket, and the flavor is passed onto the spirit as it passes through.
The ten botanicals that combine to create Bombay Sapphire are public knowledge, only the amount of each ingredient is a secret. The ingredients are:
Bombay Sapphire's success largely lies with its connection in the minds of consumers with the British Raj and the heritage that goes along with it. However, despite the portrait of Queen Victoria on the bottle, Bombay Sapphire has no connection with India other than the popularity of Gin with the colonialists. The connection with India was a creation of the marking department of Bombay Spirits Co., Ltd, giving the brand a history and heritage far greater than reality.
The merger of Guinness and GrandMet to form Diageo in 1997 resulted in the acquisition of Bombay Sapphire by Bacardi in 1998.
Under new ownership, the Bombay Sapphire launched a new marketing initiative, the Bombay Sapphire Designer Glass Competition. The competition is aimed at emerging designers, with the goal of annually finding a new design of glass to market beside Bombay Sapphire. The effort is largely credited with increasing Bombay Sapphire's quality in the eyes of consumers, along with promoting the brand's image as a sophisticated, elegant drink.
Bombay Sapphire has been credited with re-invigorating the prospects of gin in the cocktail scene, which had suffered in the early 1990s with the increase in Vodka consumption. Its subtle taste, innovative bottle and aggressive marketing made it a strong performer in cocktail sales, benefiting the entire industry.
Today, Bombay Sapphire remains as one of the leading premium gin brands in the world, with its name and heritage, both real and imaginary, unlikely to slip from view.