With its iconic blue bottle Bombay Sapphire Gin is easily one of the world’s most recognised spirits and can be found in bars across the world (including Blend Bistro of course!).
But did you know of Bombay Sapphire's origins and that it is based on one of the earliest recorded recipes for a premium quality London Dry gin.
Bombay Sapphire’s story begins with a gentleman called Thomas Dakin in 1761. At the age of 24 Dakin purchased a site with potential for distilling on Bridge Street in Warrington, and in doing so established one of the first major distilleries outside of London.
Warrington in Chesire may seem an unusual choice nowadays, but in it’s heyday, of which the late 1700's was right at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the city’s access to the port of Liverpool made it the ideal location to start a global distilling empire.
Dakin began his business not by creating Bombay Sapphire (that was only to come some 200 years later) but by creating a product called Warrington Gin.
Over the following years the Dakin family continued to develop their gin, adapting to new technologies and breakthroughs in distillation techniques. In 1831 the family purchased a new copper still – one of the first Carterhead stills around. It was this vital acquisition that set their gin apart from the rest of the crowd, as it didn’t boil the botanicals in the pot, but placed them at the top of the column for vapour infusion instead.
After over 100 years of the product just 'ticking along', the 1950's saw an opportunity to relaunch Warrington Gin for a growing and accessible American market. Satisfied with the recipe and the lighter notes of the gin due to it’s vapour infusion process, Attention was turned to the brand, which resulted in the creation of a new name and identity – Bombay Dry Gin.
The 1980's became a time for another rebrand, mainly due to Gin being very out of fashion at that time and vodka being the defacto spirit of choice for most people. Over two years of trial, with Master Distiller at the time, Ian Hamilton, a gin was developed that evolved out of the original 1761 recipe. They added two new botanicals into the mix whilst keeping all the other features intact – namely the much loved vapour infusion process. The result was a spirit that was distinctly gin like, but light enough to appeal to the vodka drinkers.
The "Sapphire" name was added to Bombay as a hint to the origins of Gin’s popularity in India during the days of the British Raj. The sapphire used in the design was allegedly inspired by the 60-carat “Star of Bombay” sapphire. However, arguably it was the iconic Bombay Sapphire blue tinted bottle that first established the brand full-stop, but it also began a relationship with the design and the uniqueness of this gin around the world that continues to this day.