Cala Kumquat gin is the result of the encounter between three Belgians, one an enthusiastic connoisseur of spirits from Brussels, another a kumquat grower in Andalusia and the third one a talented master distiller in Wallonia.
Each of the stages from its manufacture to its sale at spirits vendors and at the best bars and restaurants showcase the best in human know-how.
One man’s dream
Like Obélix, who fell from his childhood into the magic potion, Thierry Verhoeven, creator of Cala Kumquat Spirits brand, is the grandson of a wine merchant having managed major international spirit brands on the Belgian market.
A perfect background and experience against which his dream took shape: to create his own brand of premium spirits.
His objective is a 100% genuine range of spirits distilled from completely natural ingredients, for the pleasure of adventurous and pleasure-sharing connoisseurs.
The golden orange
Gradually, Thierry’s dream began to take shape. The defining moment was the day he discovered 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, invited him to visit his workshop and offered him some of his chocolate coated kumquats. A revelation!
He then met Françoise Heidebroek, a Belgian grower of 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 decided that the Golden Orange would be the main ingredient of his spirit.
Patience and love at first sight
Following many adventures and some setbacks which tested his patience and determination, the creator of Cala Kumquat Spirits became General Manager of the Biercée Distillery wich is really the Rolls Royce of Belgian artisanal distilleries.
In novembre 2017, when Thierry set eyes on this unique facility with its awe-inspiring expertise, it was love at first sight. His mind was made up. He would use this temple of traditional distillation from fresh fruit to create the first of his range of spirits. With the help of the plant’s master distiller, Thierry began to create his first recipes.
To make his first kumquat distillate, it was only natural that Thierry Verhoeven should call upon the expertise of Biercée’s master distiller, Pierre Gérard. With his trademark care and accuracy, Pierre distilled several hundred kilos of kumquats from the Rio Jara estate in March 2018. The result was an exceptionally flavourful and authentic distillate.
This original distillate was used to try out several recipes. Thierry’s dream was well on the way to coming true.
The first of a new brand
The name Cala Kumquat Spirits was trademarked during the first quarter of 2019.
It would soon become the label for a range of Belgian spirits always artisanally made from 100% organic kumquats.
The copper stills of Biercée yielded the first of the Cala Kumquat Spirits in February 2019: a truly exceptional gin with exquisite citrus fragrances!
100% artisanally made gin
This 100% Belgian and crafted Cala Kumquat gin is made from certified organic fresh kumquats, juniper berries and other natural ingredients, each steeped separately for 4 weeks in a high-quality neutral grain alcohol.
Once each fruit, berry or plant has finished steeping in a stainless-steel tank, they are distilled, also separately, in the Biercée distillery’s magnificent beaten-copper column stills. The stills are made by top manufacturer Holstein and further guarantee the quality of Cala Kumquat gin.
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-transfer 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 born of ancestral know-how is what makes it possible to extract the quintessence of the flavour and bouquet of each of the ingredients in Cala Kumquat gin.
Once each ingredient has been distilled, only the heart of each run, its purest part, is kept. It is then stored in stainless-steel tanks for several months to fully mature.
The art of blending
After each distillate has aged for long enough, the various distillates are blended. This is the crowning moment in the manufacture of Cala Kumquat gin. The juniper-berry distillate (the basic ingredient of gin) is mixed with the precious kumquat distillate according to a secret recipe carefully dosed in the course of multiple tests. The kumquat distillate is left unfiltered to ensure that it retains the full flavour of the fruit and its essential oils.
To this first mixture, the master distiller adds other citrus-fruit distillates such as orange and lemon, as well as subtly dosed cocoa, malted barley and hop distillates for that typically Belgian touch.
A human aventure
All distillates used in Cala Kumquat Spirits are made artisanally in Belgium, at the Biercée Distillery located near Thuin (Province of Hainaut, Belgium).
The Cala Kumquat gin bottle was designed by renowned Brussels graphic artist Bruno Scuvée. The bottles are printed in Soignies (Province of Hainaut, Belgium) and the bottling and packaging are performed by a specialised adapted work company. (Province of Liège, also in Belgium).
Each stage of the manufacture of Cala Kumquat gin highlights human know-how.
And remember: it’s the high quality of each ingredient and the authenticity of each distillate in Cala Kumquat gin, as well as its 100% artisanal manufacture, which ensure its pre-eminence and incomparable organoleptic qualities.