Allspice is the only spice that is grown exclusively in the Western
Hemisphere. The evergreen tree that produces the allspice berries is
indigenous to the rainforests of South and Central America where it grows
wild. Most allspice is produced in Jamaica, but some other sources for
allspice include Guatemala, Honduras, as well as Mexico. Jamaican allspice
is considered to be superior due to its higher oil content, which gives it
a more appealing flavor.
The spice was imported to Europe soon after the discovery of the new world. There were several attempts made to transplant it to spice producing regions of the east, but these trees produced little fruit. Despite its rich fragrance and a strong flavour resembling other more coveted spices, allspice never had the same caché in Europe as cinnamon or pepper. The English started making regular shipments to England in 1737, but by that time the lust for spices been eclipsed by other New-World products like sugar and coffee. It was quite popular in England though, where it came to be known as 'English Spice". In the Napoleonic war of 1812, Russian soldiers put allspice in their boots to keep their feet warm and the resultant improvement in odours is carried into today's cosmetic industries, where pimento oil is usually associated with men's toiletries (especially products with the word 'spice' on the label).