P&O Cruises creates ‘first’ gin distillery at sea

by Melita Kiely

British cruise line P&O Cruises has unveiled what is thought to be the world’s first gin distillery at sea and will produce a maritime-inspired expression with English producer Salcombe Distilling Co.

The world’s first gin distillery at sea is located on board P&O’s new cruise ship, Iona, situated within the Anderson’s Bar and Library. The distillery houses a gin still, called Columba, named after the sixth-century founder of the abbey on the Scottish island of Iona. Together with Salcombe Distilling Co, P&O Cruises will release Marabelle Gin (42% ABV), inspired by the Scottish island after which the 5,200-passenger ship is named. Paul Ludlow, P&O Cruises president, said: “The world’s first gin distillery at sea will be one of the standout star attractions on our new ship. “Marabelle means ‘star of the sea’, so this is a perfectly apt name for our unique recipe gin created on board Iona, a ship to make sea the star.” A total of 18 botanicals will be used to make the gin, including heather, citrus, green apple, blackberry, rose petals, mint and sea kelp. After its initial launch on Iona, Salcombe Distilling Co will take over distillation of P&O Cruises Marabelle Gin in its 450-litre copper still Provident in Salcombe. The gin will then be served across the entire P&O Cruises fleet. Angus Lugsdin, Salcombe Distilling Co co-founder, said: “Iona and the sea have been the inspiration for every element of Marabelle Gin from the name and the design of the bottle label, with the star formations in the night sky overhead, to the flora native to the island of Iona, juniper and heather, used in the recipe. “The bottle label is the shape of a gin pennant flag, a symbol of hospitality flown by sailors for years. When hoisted, it invites people to come aboard for a G&T, so it’s the perfect icon to symbolise our gin brand and partnership.” In September, Salcombe Distilling Co released its first non-alcoholic ‘spirit’, called New London Light.