Much like coffee, it is the cacao bean and not the fruit that is in demand. But, what happens to the fruit surrounding the seed? Sadly, most of it is thrown away and wasted. As with apples and bananas, the fruit browns quickly after being exposed to oxygen. The creator of Solbeso, Tom Higbee decided to trying his hand at distilling this fruit. Working with Peruvian Pisco producers, over four years he developed a product that is entirely unique in the world of spirits.
Solbeso (“sun-kissed”), is crafted from cacao fruit harvested on family farms in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and northern Peru. And again, like coffee, there are varietals. Solbeso chooses twelve different species of cacao fruit and blends them according to flavor and aromatics. And as with ice wine, there is just a short window of opportunity to make the final product before the fruit is rendered useless. It is an intense process that must utilize the fruit within 6-8 hours.
The yeast used for fermentation is proprietary using a blend of both local and Champagne cultures. It is during the fermentation process that it is exposed again to the open air, where it is sun-kissed. It is then distilled in both copper alembic and column stills to achieve the final product, before it is brought down to proof with water in the United States and bottled for shipping.
Solbeso Cacao Spirit (80 proof)
Nose: Slightly musky and fruity, with a nose leaning towards mango.
Taste: I’m immediately reminded of unaged whiskey with a fruity rather than sweet corn based edge. There’s a bit of heat that fools the tongue into thinking this is a higher proof spirit. The flavor is pleasant but seems one dimensional. I’m curious to know how this would fare if it was aged in a tropical wood, as some cachacas are.
Finish: Fairly short with both an interesting salty and fruity character.
Overall: This tastes best ice-cold as a shot, or as a base in a fruit based cocktail. This is also killer in a Bloody Mary, although you have to call it a Bloody Mariya.
GSN Rating: B
For more information go to: Solbeso