Allspice is not a true peppercorn. It comes from the berries of a evergreen tree native to the southern hemisphere. The trees are impressive—they can grow up to fifty feet and are often covered in beautiful white flowers. To walk near the trees is a heavenly experience. In 1755, a botanist named Patrick Browne described one such experience in this way: “Nothing can be more delicious than the odour of these walks, when the trees are in bloom, as well as other times; the friction of the leaves and the small branches even in a gentle breeze diffusing a most exhilarating scent.”
Harvesting is similar to the harvesting of peppercorns, in that each berry is picked while not yet ripe, and then dried to preserve maximum flavor. Also like peppercorn, the dried berries are sold pre-ground for covenience, or whole for a much stronger scent and taste.
The first records of allspice come from the ancient Mayan tradition. Wealthy families would use it to add extra warmth to their unsweetened hot chocolate. Christopher Columbus himself took note of it when he first visited the Americas, calling it pimento, or “pepper.” This was later corrupted to pimenta, the current name for allspice.
Allspice did not become a worldwide phenomenon until many years after Columbus, when production took off in Port Royal, Jamaica. From Jamaica, allspice was shipped to Venice, Paris, Constantinople, and London. It became wildly popular in Europe, particularly among the English. Back then, people called it newspice. An English botanist later coined the term “allspice” because he thought it tasted like the ideal combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. We have added it to our peppercorn blend for a unique flavor profile and aesthetic appeal.