It’s taking time for the idea of “non alcoholic spirits” to be adopted and embraced by the mainstream, but it’s becoming more common now. Having been involved in this area of the drinks industry for over four years - do you think attitudes have shifted much and if so how?
Yes, attitudes have definitely shifted quite a bit. Back in 2017, doing Dry January or being ‘sober’, ‘alcohol-free’ definitely wasn’t the norm, now it’s very much widely accepted, and perceptions have really shifted. It’s now fairly normal for someone to have a ‘non-alcoholic spirits’ option in their drinks cabinet, which 4 years ago was virtually unheard of!
One of the great things to see is how much more available they are compared to even just a couple of years ago - You are in hundreds of Sainsbury’s stores in the UK with a lot of other places all selling Caleño too. What’s that been like in the eye of the storm?
It’s hard to get an outside perspective when you’re in the thick of it, but yes, it’s been an absolute whirlwind, and everyday becomes more exciting.
There’s definitely been a lot of media attention on the category, and lots of innovation in the last year. Availability of alcohol-free spirits has also grown enormously, which is great, as originally one of the most frustrating things was just how unexciting the available options were!
You were working on Caleño for a while before quitting your full-time job. What was that like and at what point did you know this was “the moment” to shift?
I was working on Caleño for two years before quitting my job. It was strange leaving a stable position but I wanted a new challenge and working on Caleño was incredibly exciting for me.
So I started waking up at 5am to work on it before work and then again in the evenings and at weekends.
There came a point where I needed to make the leap, in order to really get some traction with the business, and it needed my full attention.
How long did it take you to go from inception to finished product?
It took around two years to come up with the recipe for the first bottle of Caleño. I lost count of how many iterations I went through, but there was a lot of exploration with different distillates, extraction methods and distillation techniques.