Maharani gin: Ireland spices it up

Kerala spices add flavour to new gin on the Irish coast.

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Ireland's Maharani gin uses Kerala's spices.

Kerala’s spices have been spreading their aroma as well as fame, in far-off lands for centuries now. The latest to fall for their allure is a distillery in distant Ireland that has named their newest creation ‘Maharani gin’.

The freshly launched Rebel City Distillery in the city of Cork has used organically grown Kerala spices to flavour up their gin.

Last October, distillers Bhagya and Robert Barrett showed much interest in organic spices cultivated in Wayanad by a group of 450 farmers. It did not take long for the end product to come out in the Irish market – a naturally blended gin aptly named ‘Maharani’. While Bhagya is a techie from Kollam in Kerala, her husband Robert Barrett, an Irish national, owns the Rebel City Distillery. The gin was launched in June.

The spices they use are sourced from Vanamoolika Herbals, a charitable society that organises collection and processing of various spice products produced by 450 of their member-farmers. P.J. Chackochan, managing director of Vanamoolika Herbals, said the new Irish collaboration has been very encouraging.

“They learnt about us through our website,“ said 62-year-old Chackochan, who is into organic farming.

“They came down to Kerala and saw for themselves our operations, including the processing of spice products. We shipped their first order in January this year.”

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That first order was a consignment weighing 100 kg containing organic spices including nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, pomelo peel (a variety of citrus fruit commonly available in Kerala), lemongrass and cinnamon.

“The Maharani gin has used these products of ours for flavouring. In fact, we suggested to them to include pomelo in their beverage. Now, they have sought more suggestions on other spice products since they are looking for other flavours too,” Chackochan revealed.

Vanamoolika Herbals started in 1991 with the aim to conserve medicinal plants and later adopted organic farming. Today, they have agents who source various products from them in Europe, including coffee and tea.

Interestingly, Chackochan won’t be able to sip on the new gin to tell if Kerala spices have done wonders to the beverage – he is a teetotaller.

Bhagya went to Ireland in 2013 to do her MBA. She married Barett, a biochemist by profession, in 2017 at Kollam. Since then, both have been working on their distillery, which has finally come out with a product with connections to her native state of Kerala.