Cala Spirits alcohols emerged from the encounter between an enthusiastic connoisseur of conviviality and spirits from Brussels, a Belgian arboriculturist and kumquat grower based on the borders of Andalusia, and some of Belgium’s most talented master distillers. These creations are 100% Belgian and artisanally made.
Every stage of their production process – from the cultivation of the raw materials to their sale at spirits vendors and at the best bars and restaurants – showcase one irreplaceable element: human know-how.
One man’s dream
Like Obélix, who at a very young age fell into the magic potion, Thierry Verhoeven, creator of the Cala Spirits brand and the grandson of a wine merchant, embarks on a professional career that leads him to manage major international spirit brands on the Belgian market.
A perfect background and experience against which a dream gradually takes shape: to create his own brand of premium spirits.
His objective is to create a 100% genuine range of spirits distilled from completely natural ingredients, for the pleasure of adventurous and pleasure-sharing connoisseurs.
The golden orange
Thierry’s dream becomes more concrete with every stage of his career, right up to the defining moment when he discovers kumquats, tiny citrus fruits which are eaten skin and all and are called “golden oranges” in Cantonese.
In the early 2000s, Laurent Gerbaud, a famous master chocolatier from Brussels, invites him to visit his workshop and offers him some of his chocolate-coated kumquats. A true revelation of flavours!
Thierry then gets to discover the sublime taste of fresh kumquats, thanks to Françoise Heidebroek. This Belgian tree grower living on the borders of Europe, grows organic kumquats and other citrus fruits on her family farm in Southern Andalusia.
Fascinated by the tiny fruit and the way it explodes into a thousand sweet and acid flavours in the mouth, Thierry decides that this golden orange will be the main ingredient of his future spirits.
Patience and love at first sight
Following many adventures and several setbacks which test his patience and determination, the creator of Cala Spirits is placed at the helm of one of the jewels of Walloon heritage: the Biercée Distillery.
In November 2017, when Thierry first sets eyes on this unique facility with its awe-inspiring expertise, it is love at first sight. His mind is made up. He will use this temple of traditional distillation of fresh fruit to create the first of his range of spirits. With the help of the plant’s master distiller, Thierry begins to create his first recipes.
To make his first kumquat distillate, it is only natural that Thierry Verhoeven calls upon the expertise of Biercée’s master distiller. With his trademark care and accuracy, the expert distills several hundred kilos of kumquats from the Rio Jara estate in March 2018. He extracts all the quintessence in an exceptionally flavourful and authentic distillate.
This original distillate is then used to try out several recipes. Thierry’s dream is well on the way to becoming a reality.
The first of a new brand
The Cala Spirits brand is created and trademarked in the first quarter of 2019. It will soon become the label for a range of Belgian spirits that are practically all made from 100% organic kumquats and according to artisanal methods.
The stills yield the first of the Cala Spirits range in February 2019: a truly exceptional gin with exquisite citrus fragrances!
100% artisanally made gin
These 100% Belgian and crafted Cala Spirits alcohols are all made from certified organic fresh kumquats that steeped for 4 weeks in a high-quality neutral grain alcohol and were then distilled in copper stills.
Once each fruit, berry, grain or plant has finished steeping in a stainless steel tank, they are distilled, also separately, in magnificent beaten-copper column stills, the crème de la crème among stills.
Did you know that the copper of which stills are made enhances the final quality of each of the distillates they produce?
Copper has excellent heat-conducting properties, which enable master distillers to perform each distillation at the precise temperature required for each type of fruit, berry or plant. The temperature of the steam heating and cooling is controlled to the exact degree.
This extreme precision drawn from ancestral know-how makes it possible to extract the quintessence of the flavour and bouquet of the fresh organic kumquats that are at the base of Cala Spirits alcohols.
Once each ingredient has been distilled, only the heart of each run, its purest part, is carefully preserved. Each distillate is then left to rest in stainless steel tanks for several months until it has reached full maturity.
The art of blending
Once each base distillate has aged long enough, the various distillates are blended. This is the crowning moment in the manufacture of Cala Spirits alcohols.
The various grain, fruit, root, berry and spice distillates are blended with the precious kumquat distillate according to very precise proportions, carefully dosed in the course of multiple tests and recorded in each recipe. The kumquat distillate is left unfiltered to ensure that it retains the full flavour of the fruit, which amongst other elements gives Cala Spirits alcohols their typical character.
A human aventure
All distillates used in Cala Spirits alcohols are made artisanally in two of the best distilleries that Belgium has to offer.
The graphics on the Cala Spirits bottles have been designed by the renowned Brussels graphic artist Bruno Scuvée.
The bottles are screen-printed by Tradyglass, located in Soignies (in the province of Hainaut – Belgium) and the bottling and packaging are performed by a specialised sheltered workshop (in the province of Liège – Belgium).
Each stage of the manufacture of Cala Spirits alcohol highlights local human know-how.
If you have to remember only one thing, it is this: the Cala Spirits alcohols owe their pre-eminence and incomparable organoleptic qualities to the extraordinary quality of the fresh kumquats and of each of their ingredients.