Licores Bello Blanco is a small and humble Galician workshop where artisanal liqueurs are crafted using unique and very different procedures from the usual ones, which we will describe in this article.
- What are the raw materials for making artisanal liqueur?
For the production of our artisanal liqueurs, we always use a distillate of Godello grape brandy from Barco de Valderorras. In the case of coffee liqueurs (we also have decaffeinated coffee liqueur), we use organic UTZ-certified coffee beans.
For the syrups, we use low-mineralization bottled water and organic panela (i.e., crushed and unrefined sugar cane) from a Peruvian cooperative called CAES Piura. It’s worth noting that our current coffee liqueur recipe is the 26th version of the original recipe, which has been refined over the years.
- Artisanal Fruit Liqueur
We also craft fruit liqueurs, and in 2022, we made blueberry liqueur for the second time, using fresh fruit from a family business in Betanzos. The process is similar but has its own unique characteristics and minor differences due to the use of fresh fruit.
What is the process for making artisanal liqueurs?
- Artisanal Liqueur Maceration Process
The liqueurs are macerated in glass jars for 8 to 10 weeks, as we have determined that this is the time it takes for our proportions to saturate the liqueurs with flavor. We use a specific daily agitation method, trying to mimic a kind of “battonage” with the intention of enhancing density without relying too heavily on syrup. Yeast from fermentation is not involved here, unlike in sherry or port wine, which is why we refer to it as an imitation.
At Licores Bello Blanco, we use two different maceration methods:
- Hot maceration for coffee liqueurs, in which coffee is infused with syrup, and after 24 hours, brandy is added.
- A different cold maceration process for fruit liqueurs.
Artisanal Liqueur Filtration Process
Once the maceration process is complete, where the flavors of the brandy, coffee or blueberries, depending on the type of liqueur being made, and the syrup blend into a homogeneous taste, we move on to what is perhaps the most important process in our view: filtration.
In the case of coffee liqueur, the first filtration is done by dripping through the coffee beans used during maceration, which are left to compact for several days. The liqueurs undergo three more filtrations over the following months to remove any possible impurities.
All batches are limited editions with their respective alcohol content. In other words, once the liqueurs are finished, they are not modified to achieve an exact and consistent alcohol content. For example, using the same recipe and ingredient quantities, coffee liqueur may have an alcohol content of 32.1%, 31%, or 30.8%, depending on the corresponding loss in each batch.
- Pre-Bottling Maturation
After filtration, the liqueurs must be aged for a minimum of 6 months in tanks to improve and become more sophisticated, achieving the characteristic taste of Licores Bello Blanco.
- Final Filtration of Artisanal Liqueurs
Finally, before they can be consumed, the liqueurs undergo a final filtration using special filters so that they can be bottled, sealed, and individually packaged manually. This process can extend for more than a year before these elixirs can be enjoyed.