5 Philippine Craft Spirits You Might Have Not Yet Heard Of

Proudly Philippine-made!

We Filipinos love our beer. Beer is essential during fiestas, birthdays, parties or just to celebrate the end of the work week. Our most popular mainstream beer brand is known around the world and there’s an increasingly growing number of local craft beer players and microbreweries.

While fruit-based wines are commonly sold around the country as souvenirs, traditional wines, rums, and other types of liquor are usually reserved for special events like weddings and anniversaries. They’re also more popular during the holiday season to welcome balikbayan relatives.

Destileria Limtuaco, the oldest distillery in the Philippines, has some pretty innovative craft spirits making use of local ingredients and distinctly Filipino branding. These special liquors are elegantly packaged, making them great gifts and conversation pieces for any occasion, particularly those attended by foreigners and expats looking for something unique to the country.

Here are just a few of their interesting liquors that draw inspiration from the richness of local and regional traditions.

Manille Liqueur de Calamansi & Liqueur de Dalandan

A local take on Italy’s Limoncello (lemon liqueur), Manille Liqueur offers two variants of the distilled spirit flavored with native citrus fruits: calamansi and dalandan.

We usually just take calamansi for granted as a flavoring for savory food and grilled dishes mixed with soy sauce. It’s also commonly used in cold juice drinks or hot tea. Manille Liqueur de Calamansi captures the essence of calamansi by using the citrus fruit’s rinds to make a drink that is zesty, fresh and packed with an intense citrus aroma in a vodka base.

Meanwhile, Manille Liqueur de Dalandan is made with Philippine Orange rinds in a vodka base. It’s a citrusy sweet liqueur with the essence of orange and lime. Both liqueurs serve as a pretty good digestif or drink to cleanse the palate between courses. The liqueurs can also be used to prepare sweet and savory dishes or cocktails that require any kind of zesty kick.

I recently got to taste these two liquors when they were used as a base for Calamansi Mojito and Dalandan Splash cocktails at an event in Manila Hotel, and they were pretty darn good!

Vigan Basi Sugarcane Wine

A post shared by Aaron Aw (@aaronjamesaw) on

Basi or sugarcane wine is a local beverage of Ilocos in Northern Luzon, where it has been enjoyed in the country even before the Spanish conquest. Commercial basi is usually produced by crushing sugarcane and extracting the juice. The juice is boiled in vats and then stored in earthen jars.

Vigan Basi Sugarcane Wine elevates the traditional basi by preparing it with internationally accepted wine making and processing standards. They infuse local Ilocano herbs like samak leaves and kariskis bark to give it a unique flavor. The packaging in an elegant shaped brandy-like bottle with its vintage style label reflecting Vigan’s rich colonial history also sets it apart from the usual souvenir wines sold along the highway.

Dragon Fire Dragon Fruit Wine

A post shared by Alu Aran (@alu.aran) on

We’re all familiar with Strawberry Wine and Rice Wine from different provicnes in the North. But have you ever heard of Dragon Fruit Wine? Dragon Fire is a fermented wine that makes use of 100% red dragon fruit endemic to Ilocos Norte.

This beverage tastes mildly sweet and has a subdued tartness while gives off an exciting and vibrant magenta color which is reflected in the bottle’s brightly colored packaging. Since dragon fruit is low in glycemic index and the seeds are rich in fiber, this beverage is said to be good for the health. Let’s drink to that!

Amadeo Coffee Liqueur

A post shared by leap1107 (@leapatawaran) on

Amadeo Coffee Liqueur is an all-natural coffee liqueur that proudly uses four kinds of homegrown coffee beans from the Philippines – Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa (also known as “barako” native coffee) in a rum base.

The unique beverage gets its name from the town of Amadeo in Cavite, one of the largest coffee-producing regions in the country. The coffee-based liqueur comes in a special frosted bottle and is also available with a gift tin canister, making it a perfect gift for coffee lovers! Coffee Martini, anyone?

Imeldifique Cooking Wine

Add some flair to your kitchen adventures with cooking wine named after former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Imeldifique Cooking Wine is made with sorghum spirit and enhanced with native garlic, onions and salt, making it an interesting addition to Asian recipes.

You can use this cooking wine to marinate meat and seafood, saute in oil, bake or fry, or add an instant ginisa flavor it to stews and other dishes. The bottle’s eye-catching label features a caricature of the former first lady dressed in the iconic Filipinania terno adorned with onions and garlic. Cute!

These craft spirits aim to show the best of the Philippines to the world one bottle at a time.

Want to try these unique craft spirits for yourself? You can get them from your favorite spirit stores or do your shopping online and hassle-free by ordering through here.

About the Author

Kara Santos

Kara Santos is a freelance writer and photographer. When not on the road or motorcycling off somewhere for the weekend, she’s leveling up her experience points in the latest PlayStation RPG. Read about her real-life and virtual adventures on her blog Travel Up.