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Drunk in gelato: Destileria Limtuaco teams up with Karabella Dairy to create booze-infused ice cream

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 16, 2022 9:54 pm Updated Aug 16, 2022 10:02 pm

An intoxicatingly sweet collab between Destileria Limtuaco and Karabella Dairy was launched recently, partnering the over-a-century-old distillery and the relatively new gelato brand.

Though ice cream or gelato infused with alcohol has already been on the market for a while, what made this interesting for me is the focus on local: two companies creatively combining their products and coming up with a unique creation that is Filipino all the way.

The five new Karabella gelato flavors featuring Destileria Limtuaco’s Philippine Craft Sprits are Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur, Intramuros Liqueur de Cacao, Very Old Captain Artisan Crafted Dark Rum, and Amadeo Coffee Liqueur.

Both Destileria Limtuaco and Karabella support local communities and are Pinoy all the way.

Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc. was established in 1852 and is the oldest distillery in the Philippines. It is the OG, so to speak. They produce distilled spirits and alcoholic beverages such as whisky, rum, gin, brandy, vodka, flavored tequila, ready-mix cocktails, liqueurs, and even medicinal tonic.

Karabella, from the term "caraballa" (female carabao), started as a social enterprise with the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, offering fresh dairy products. They proudly use 100%-fresh carabao milk, alongside the best natural ingredients sourced from other social entrepreneurs and local farmers, helping them have sustainable incomes.

The Manille Liqueur de Calamansi gelato has basil, a great combination.

Brandon Limpe-Aw, vice president for admin of Destileria Limtuaco & Co., tells the story of how the exciting collab started: “Our paths first crossed when we both participated at a Made in QC event in Robinsons Magnolia. Made in QC is a Quezon City Government-published coffee-table book promoting goods and products proudly made in the city."

"A few months after the event, Spanky Enriquez (marketing consultant of Karabella) reached out to my brother regarding a possible collaboration with the gelato maker. At that time, they were already experimenting and making gelato with other liquor brands," Limpe-Aw continued. "He suggested that we partner up with Karabella Dairy because he knew both companies had similar values and produce quality products."

The Very Old Captain Artisan Crafted Dark Rum flavor features the iconic rum combined with chocolate ice cream.

“Upon agreeing which products to use, Karabella's team started with the R&D (research and development). Both companies were involved in the R&D. They sent us samples and we gave feedback until we were able to come up with the best combinations that we were both happy about. All five flavors were delicious and well-balanced, but I have my favorites," Limpe-Aw said.

"Personally, I really enjoy Paradise Mango Rum and Very Old Captain Rum flavors. Philippine Mango, Rum and Chocolate are my guilty pleasures.”

The Very Old Captain Artisan Crafted Dark Rum flavor features the iconic rum combined with chocolate ice cream.
The Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur flavor is a mixture of mango and cashew.

I asked brother Aaron Limpe-Aw, executive vice president of the company, his favorite flavors as well: “I'm partial to the Very Old Captain Rum combined with chocolate gelato. While all are good, I find this is the boldest and most well rounded of the flavors. I think it helps that it has the highest alcohol content. Another favorite is the Manille Liqueur de Calamansi with basil because it's quite interesting.”

Karabella’s energetic gelato chef EJ Buenaflor explains the exciting process in making these interesting flavors based on the liqueurs. “The liqueurs of Destileria Limtuaco already have their own notable flavors and taste. Turning them into gelato was a bit challenging because we would like to keep the balance of everything… from the taste and the alcohol content. What we did is, we added ingredients and mixes that would give more flavor, and thought of ways to present it in a unique way by mixing classics and at the same time created innovations.”

The Amadeo Coffee Liqueur gelato has coffee and cacao nibs.

I did my own taste test (I wonder if I will get tipsy) and tried each and every flavor. Here are my personal impressions:

Manille Liqueur de Calamansi – This popular vodka-based liqueur is made from the essence of the calamansi, using its rinds for zest. The first thing I noticed was the creamy texture, followed by the flavors of the calamansi liqueur then basil. The gelato is perfect in its simplicity, with not too many overwhelming ingredients. Most of the time, simple is best.

Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur – This versatile liqueur is as Filipino as it gets. And who doesn’t love mangoes? The gelato pairs this well-loved tropical fruit with bits of cashew, a great combination.

Intramuros Liqueur de Cacao –This Philippine cacao flavor has added tablea chocolate chips, heightening its flavor. The richness of the cacao ice cream and chips is a palate pleaser.

Very Old Captain Artisan Crafted Dark Rum – Just iconic. This version is combined with chocolate gelato. The distinct rum flavor partnered with chocolate just works, and is fantastic. It is my favorite in this collaboration.

Amadeo Coffee Liqueur – Named after the coffee capital of the Philippines, the liqueur contains a blend of Robusta, Arabica, Excelsa, and Liberica coffees. The “barako” taste is evident in the gelato, which adds cacao-coffee nibs for crunch.


Karabella gelato featuring Philippine Craft Spirits is available at the Destileria Limtuaco Museum and at The Marketplace. For online purchases, go to:, the Karabella Dairy Shop in Lazada, or direct message @karabelladairy on Instagram.