The name itself hints at an exotic world lost in time, a place of treasure and wonder. To venture across this landscape is as much step into the unknown as any road trip or lost weekend.
It’s a journey along the Spice Route that leads to Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin
We begin our quest on a small Malaysian island in search of the mysterious and darkly piquant cubeb peppers.
Used in treating many ailments, cubebs are reputed to be an aphrodisiac, to have magical powers – and to be helpful in warding off demons too. All very good reasons to bring their spiced heat to our fabulous gin.
In India’s south-east coast in Malabar we find the earthly paradise of Kerala. Here we gather fragrant cardamom and Tellicherry black peppers, the world’s finest – also known as the King of Spices or Black Gold.
With over 10,000 festivals a year, Kerala is clearly the home of a good party. A jumbo must-see here is elephant polo. It’s said if you dream you’re riding an elephant, you’re a born leader. Or maybe you just really like elephants.
We make the long sea journey from India to Turkey for its earthy, spicy cumin seeds – and the distinctive nutty peppery note they bring to Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin.
We aren’t the only travellers here: many spices cover thousands of miles too – across land by camel and elephant (dream on!) or over water by how, to reach the spice markets, where we join in the bidding wars.
Here, where we load our perfumed cargo of precious juniper, whose distinctive peppery bite lends gin its characteristic taste.
This floating city is a miraculous illusion built on over 100 submerged islands. It was also home to the explorer’s explorer, a certain Marco Polo – the guy who’s been there, done that and, according to legend, discovered the t-shirt with a smart collar.
We next set sail for far Morocco – and the fresh, zesty note that its famous coriander lends our gin
Crossing the Mediterranean wasn’t always a pleasure cruise. Morocco was once one of the Barbary States, home to the pirates who pillaged trade ships in the 17th and 18th centuries, and invented eye-patches, parrots and hooks for hands.
We pause to load Spanish oranges, prized for the fragrance of their peel and the balancing sweetness this lends the spices.
They give us their oranges, we give them something even better: gin. Yes, Spain is now Europe’s largest premium gin market by some way
We make it home at last …England