Cocktails & Spirits

Colombian White for a Different Kind of Buzz

Bringing a new product to market is an ambitious endeavor. But for three Miamians, a strong friendship, Colombian roots, and a mutual love of aguardiente has led them to commercialize Colombian White -- a premium spirit derived from sugar cane with hints of anise.

It all began at Juan Saldarriaga's wedding. Clearing out bottles of tequila, vodka, and gin at the end of the night, he noticed that his country's national drink, aguardiente, was nowhere in the mix. Because aguardiente production is largely state-run in Colombia (unless you live in a neighboring country), there is not much export. Only a handful of brands make their way to our shores. Saldarriaga and his two partners, Mike Oviedo and Hernst Bellevue, are looking to change that. Their goal is to have the clear, 40-proof spirit be the next big thing to hit the U.S. liquor industry.

The name Colombian White, not to be confused with another popular export item, "is not a play on words but rather is meant to literally describe the clear, white spirit" Oviedo says, "but a little controversy is never a bad thing." The trio is targeting a "young and artistic" crowd and has already caught the attention of Spliff Star, who incorporates Colombian White in his song "This Right Here." Not bad for a brand that is due to launch this fall.

Short Order, along with some local artists and musicians, was invited to participate in a blind tasting of three final formulations. We judged on smell, flavor, and finish before selecting our favorite. All three had recognizable anise flavor to varying degrees. There was a general consensus on the favorite, but also a clear difference in what appealed to the men as opposed to the women. It's now up to the threesome to settle on a winning formula and get the party started.

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Christina Staalstrom