Jo gets a taste for the glories of Venice with a taste of the Venetian spirit Cadello


As a journalist, it’s easy to get inbox ennui… almost every PR missive is about something new, but all too often, new is nothing new. Especially in the drinks world, with its endless craft gins and beers, yet another kefir-laden prebiotic or celebrity-endorsed soft drink.

 So, it was something of a revelation to receive news of Cadello. Wait… this is actually a new spirit. Hallelujah!

As it turns out, not only is Cadello new, but it’s the kind of utterly intriguing and versatile drink that would make a great addition to the Christmas party scene.

The idea behind it, explains founder Matt Dunn, is that it harks back to the age of Venetian splendour in the 18th century, when the Spice Road gave Venice control over trade in the Far East: what would wealthy Venetian merchants have created to serve at their lavish masked balls?

This thinking is reflected in the bottle’s Asian-Italian logo of a mask showing a dragon, to represent the Orient, with the tail of a Venetian gondola. The number 88 in Chinese culture is said to bring luck and good fortune as well as eight being the number of ingredients in the drink.

The name Cadello is the creation of a fictitious palace – in Venice, instead of’casa’, houses are known as Ca’, so we have Ca’dello or Cadello.

“We wanted to create something unique and started off experimenting in our kitchen, mainly unsuccessfully. Then three and a half years ago we approached one of Italy’s leading distillers, Elio Pisoni, and asked him to make Cadello, developing it and then producing it on a large scale. It was a highly laborious process over the next three years, refining the drink to where it is now.”

But what of the drink itself? Developed over three years and made in Italy, a combination of eight ingredients – from locations along the old Silk Route – are infused for different periods of time before being separately distilled.

They are then blended and aged in new French barrels containing coffee beans, until Cadello reaches the perfect level of depth, its light golden-brown colour, complexity and smoothness. 

Many drinks are one-dimensional but the great thing about Cadello is its sheer complexity, which makes it ideal for drinking neat, over ice. And it is definitely unique: as Matt says, “there may, for example, be many new gins on the market but they are all, essentially, gin.”

As you drink Cadello, over 50 seconds you experience flavours of star anise and mint, followed by coffee, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and hazelnut. Matt says: “I played around with flavour combinations, using Cadello as the base for cocktails. Here we have 2 parts Cadello to 1 part beer – it doesn’t really taste like Cadello, but nor does it taste like beer.”


We found out that using a spicy gin, such as Ophir, enhanced the spices in Cadello – the flavours complemented each other, rather than being discordant. Bourbon was another winner, with the smoothness of the whisky being enlivened by the distinct flavours in Cadello.

For Matt, the best way to enjoy his drink depends on the time of year. “In the summer, I love it in a Negroni. Usually it’s equal parts of gin, Campari and vermouth, but with Cadello you just need a touch of vermouth. At this time of year, I also enjoy the Manhattan on ice with a bit of zest. My business partner would say that our signature cocktail is the espresso Martini, with a hint of cherry liqueur. The ingredients integrate perfectly.”

“Although Cadello is complex, it isn’t overwhelmed by other flavours when you mix it with other drinks. Star anise, for example could be too powerful, but because the percentage of each ingredient is small, it allows other flavours to come up.”

“It’s also great for making a Martini with a good vodka stirred over ice: the vodka kills the star anise, but if you mix 5 parts vodka to 2 parts Cadello you end up with the subtle highlights in your Martini as vodka is neutral and doesn’t taste of anything.”

As thoughts turn to the party season, this new kid on the block could certainly be well worth seeking out: Cadello is perfectly smooth and can be simply enjoyed on its own at any time as an aperitivo, digestive or as part of a cocktail.

Cadello is available from Honest Grapes , £30 for 50cl, 33% ABV.