Spirit of the ocean: Marabelle Gin will the first ever to be made at sea on P&O Cruises ship Iona

Iona will have its own distillery when it launches next year (Picture: P&O Cruises)

A new blend called Marabelle Gin will be produced in the first distillery at sea on P&O Cruises ship Iona, it was announced today.

The spirit, created by the Salcombe Distilling Co, has been inspired by the terroir of the Scottish island after which the ship is named. As well as heather, the 18 botanicals include citrus and green apple, blackberry, rose petals and mint, as well as sea kelp to create a subtle hint of the ocean.

The gin will be distilled in a still called Columba, named after the sixth-century founder of Iona Abbey, in Anderson’s Bar and Library on board the 5,200-passenger ship that is launching next year.

As well as being served in cocktails, Marabelle Gin will also be bottled and labelled to be sold on board and enjoyed at home.

The distinctive bottles of Marabelle Gin (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Passengers will also be able to attend two masterclasses on the ship – one to learn the secrets of distilling and tasting gin, and the other to create their own blend from a selection of botanicals.

There will be a total of 30 bars and restaurants on Iona, with new menus by Marco Pierre White, destination-inspired dishes and what’s claimed to be the ‘best burger at sea’. 

The Prime Minister burger, which will be served in a new gastropub – The Keel and Cow – features an 8oz dry-aged prime beef patty, Isle of Wight blue cheese, dry-cured bacon, beefsteak tomatoes,  pancetta jam, onion marmalade, roasted garlic mayonnaise and pickled gherkins in a salted bun. 

The Glass House will serve a tapas menu designed by Spanish chef José Pizarro and ice creams will feature in a new venue, Ripples gelateria.

The ‘best burger at sea’ (Picture: P&O Cruises)

The Chef’s Table is also new and developed for Iona’s gala celebration nights by Marco Pierre White and Eric Lanlard, with wine recommendations by Olly Smith. Master pâtissier Lanlard will also give his take on afternoon tea at the Epicurean restaurant.

After Marabelle Gin is launched on Iona, Salcombe Distilling Co will also produce the spirit in its 450-litre copper still ‘Provident’ in Devon to be served across the whole P&O Cruises fleet. 

The cruise line also plans to work with the company to develop exclusive gins inspired by the destinations it visits.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: ‘The world’s first gin distillery at sea will be one of the stand-out 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 set to make sea the star.’

Making a test batch of Marabelle Gin (Picture: P&O Cruises/Salcombe Distilling Co)

Salcombe Distilling Co co-founder Angus Lugsdin said: ‘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.

‘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.’

See also:

P&O Cruises boss talks about Iona’s distillery

Four-screen cinema and fun food on Iona

Iona will have formal nights – and its own gin distillery

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