The Story SO FAR!
The Story SO FAR!
Caleño is a range of distilled non-alcoholic spirits inspired by the sun-drenched spirit of Colombia that take you seamlessly from day to night. Light & Zesty is a tropical blend of Inca berry, citrus and spice botanicals and Dark & Spicy, a warming infusion of dark tropical pineapple notes and ginger and kola nut spices for those bare-legged balmy nights. Time to set your spirit free?
Creating “The joy of not drinking”.
Caleño exists to help create more moments of joy in people’s lives. We seek to look at the bigger picture and the smallest moments that thread together to create, a brighter, bolder and more vibrant way of living.
Process of distillation
We’re a passionate bunch which means we spend time getting things just right, or ‘perfecto’ as they say in Colombia. Our distillation process is a thing of joy. We hunt down the tastiest tropical ingredients and spices before distilling and blending our two unique flavours inside modern stainless-steel drums. We distil for 48 hours extracting our zingy, zesty and spicy exotic flavours, and by day two everything smells incredible. This joyful distillation is then left to mature for another two weeks before we bottle and bring along to our next fiesta!
Sometimes in life, when you can’t find what you need, it’s time to make it yourself.
Caleño was born out of personal frustration. Founder Ellie was on an alcohol-free night out with friends, getting down to some Latin funk. But something was bugging her. Why should not drinking mean not having fun? She felt uninspired by the alcohol-free drinks on offer and decided it was time to bring some joy to not drinking. Caleño first came to life in Ellie’s kitchen, but it was 5,000 miles later on trip back to Colombia when she felt re-inspired by her Latin roots. After soaking up the vibrant colours, tropical flavours and Latin beats of her family’s homeland, she returned home to bottle it. Fuelled by that Latin positivity, Ellie set out to infuse the sun-drenched flavours of Colombia with her non-alcoholic spirits. The result? Caleño. Non-alcoholic spirits, for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
How did the journey begin? (Told by Ellie)
So, I guess my whole journey essentially began two years ago, back in January 2017. It was a culmination of things, but mainly, I was looking to cut back on my drinking after Christmas. There was one night in Bristol, I remember going out to a Latin Funk music night with some friends, and I’d offered to drive (as I wasn’t drinking). My friends ordered the usual gin and tonics, craft beers, whilst I was left drinking a diet coke and then water…
Not quite as exciting, and was quite frustrating. Coming from a background in the alcohol industry, it got me thinking. There is literally so much choice in the world of spirits and alcohol, but if you’re suddenly not then drinking, what the hell do you drink? I knew I couldn’t drink soft drinks all night, and water felt incredibly boring.
A few months later I took a trip back to Colombia. I spent a lot of time with family (my mum’s side is from there) and also travelled around the country, visiting Cali, Medellin, Bogota the coffee region and the coastal towns of Cartagena and Santa Marta. Whilst I was there I experienced the warm, happy upbeat/sunny nature of the Colombian people, who are relentlessly optimistic, open-minded and are always finding an excuse to celebrate/ party!! It was there that it kind of dawned on me what the non-alcoholic space was lacking. When you don’t drink, people accuse you of being boring, and that’s just not the case, it’s the drinks that are dull. It needed a massive injection of fun and excitement, and that’s when I decided that was what my drink was going to do. I guess from there my vision for the drink was pretty clear.
I bought a load of botanicals online and started experimenting and playing around with different ingredients in my kitchen in Bristol, seeing what kind of flavours I could extract. I was determined to create something that tasted more like the adult-type drinks I was used to drinking, had complexity of flavour, interesting ingredients, and also reminded me of my favourite place in the world… Colombia (hence the Inca berry!).
Bristol is a brilliant hub for new entrepreneurial businesses. When I first started the business, I visited around 100+ pubs and bars, who I asked for feedback on the product I was developing. I’ve also worked with Outset West, where I had access to key mentors.
Caleño key moments
2017 – first got serious about Caleño
2018 – Ellie left her job in Bristol
2019 – Launched into 500 Sainsbury’s stores and employed my first employee