Pubs in Ireland are serving a different kind of Gin and the ‘Maharani’ which was introduced as a tribute to the women in Kerala has become a new trend in Europe.
Keralite Bhagya Barrett and her Irish husband Robert Barrett opened a distillery in Ireland using the natural spices from Wayanad. They launched ‘Maharani’ gin that have a Kerala style flavour from their distillery in Cork city the other day. Carrying the Malayalam label ‘Viplava Spirit’ on sticker, the liquor bottle bears the Malayalam word ‘Moksham’ on its cap too.
When the lid is opened, the aroma of pomelo (Kambili Naranga in Malayalam), cardamom, nut meg and cinnamon emanates. All these ingredients are supplied by the local women’s collective ‘Vanamoolika’ in Wayanad. It is written on the bottle that the gin is a tribute to the revolutionary women in Kerala who are known for their strength and importance in society.
The picture of sword in the bottle symbolizes the brave woman Nangeli who protested against the social evil of imposing breast tax on the low caste women who wanted to cover upper part of their body in Kerala many years ago. When the pubs opened in Ireland after the lockdown was relaxed, ‘Maharani’ gin became a hit and people started coming in search of it.
Some of the customers become curious on seeing the Malayalam words and pictures on the bottle and inquire about the history of Kerala, said Bhagya. An IT programme engineer by profession, Bhagya hails from Kilikollur in Kollam here. She reached Ireland in 2011 and married Robert Barrett in 2017. Robert is a consultant in distillery sector and it was his dream to start a distillery of his own.
Robert came to know about the culture and history of Kerala from Bhagya and was interested. He visited Wayanad and was attracted by the aroma of cardamom and other spices. Later, the Kerala origin gin was developed. Bhagya told ‘Mathrubhumi’ that as she is a feminist, the social awareness of women in Kerala inspired her.
Symbolizing the rebel spirit of fighting the British people who invaded the land, it was captioned ‘Viplava Spirit’. Cork City where the distillery was opened is also known as Rebel City. The enterprise was started with the financial aid of Ireland government Food Board. The couple has a plan to deliver the ‘Maharani’ gin in Kerala via online.