P&O to Launch ‘World’s First Gin Distillery at Sea’

Marabelle Gin landscape

P&O Cruises has announced in a press release that it will be producing its own “sea-inspired” gin Marabelle onboard the new Iona. According to the cruise line, this will make it the first gin distillery at sea.

The gin will be produced in partnership with UK-based Salcombe Distilling Co.

According to the gin company, the gin’s recipe was inspired by the terroir found on Iona, a Scottish island and namesake of the Iona ship. Heather – found on the island – is one of the 18 botanicals used to create the gin.

“This exciting partnership unites two British brands with a love of ocean adventures in a beautifully crafted gin. 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,” said Angus Lugsdin, co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Co.

According to the P&O Cruises President Paul Ludlow, Marabelle means “star of the sea.”

“This is a perfectly apt name for our unique-recipe gin created onboard the Iona, a ship set to make sea the star,” Ludlow said, adding that the distillery will be “one of the stand-out star attractions on our new ship.”

The distillery will be part of the Anderson’s Bar and Library where it will be served, as well as cocktails based on it.

“The gin will be produced in Iona’s gin still ‘Columba’ named after the sixth-century founder of the abbey on the island of Iona. Then it will be bottled and labeled on board with bottles available for guests to purchase and enjoy at home,” P&O Cruises stated.

“Following its launch on Iona, Salcombe Distilling Co. will distill P&O Cruises Marabelle Gin in its 450-liter copper still ‘Provident’ in Salcombe to be served across the entire P&O Cruises fleet,” the cruise line added.

In addition, two gin masterclasses will be available for attendance on the new Iona. One will be aimed at theory with a tasting session at the end, while the other, “a smaller, more intimate experience” (according to the press release), will allow guests to make their own Marabelle Gin under the tutelage of an expert.

The label found on the Marabelle bottles is the shape of a gin pennant flag, which is a “symbol of hospitality flown by sailors for years,” said Salcombe’s Lugsdin. 

“When hoisted, it invites people to come aboard for a G&T, so it’s the perfect icon to symbolize our gin brand and partnership,” he explained.

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