An assortment of spices grown in Kerala have been spreading their aroma, and fame, in far-off lands for centuries now. And the latest to fall for their taste and smell is a couple based in distant Ireland, who has used organically grown spices to flavour up a gin they introduced at their new distillery.
It was in last October when the couple showed 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 Ireland 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 newly started Rebel City Distillery in Cork in Ireland. The ‘Maharani’ gin was launched in June.
Speaking to IANS, P.J. Chackochan, managing director of Vanamoolika Herbals, a charitable society that organises collection and processing of various spice products produced by 450 of their member-farmers, said this particular development has been very encouraging.
“They learnt about us through our website and contacted us in October. They came down to Kerala and saw for themselves our operations, including processing of spice products that we collect from our farmers. Later, we shipped their order in January this year,” said 62-year-old Chackochan, who is into organic farming.
Vanamoolika Herbals shipped 100 kg of 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 for their liquors,” said Chackochan.
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 since he is a teetotaller.
“What we have been told by our partners in Europe — who were given a bottle of the new gin by the couple — is that the drink is too good. Anyways, my friends here are waiting for its arrival,” added a smiling Chackochan.
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 came out with a product with connections to her native state Kerala.