Olivia Limpe Aw: Continuing a legacy

Olivia Limpe Aw, current chief executive officer and president of Destileria Limtuaco, believes that local distilled spirits and liqueurs should take their place in the world market alongside tequila, sake and vodka.
Hence, the company now offers traditional Filipino spirits such as San Juan Premium Lambanog and Vigan Basi. The company has also gained acclaim with their distilled spirit flavored with local fruits such as calamansi and dalandan.
Even before Olivia assumed the role of CEO, she was already looking for ways to expand the company’s business and enter the export market. She took her products abroad when she was part of the trade mission of president Fidel V. Ramos in mid-1990s.
But the response she got from potential customers abroad was disappointing as the products she was offering were already available in their markets. This led Olivia on a quest to find a product that is uniquely Filipino.
She experimented and combined two products that the country is known for – mangoes and rum – and the result was the Paradise mango rum liqueur. Since its introduction in 2002, it has won numerous awards, both locally and internationally – a huge accomplishment, as conquering the overseas market is not easy.
In 2008, she met former agricultural secretary Arthur Yap, who told her how much he liked the mango rum liqueur. He encouraged her to look into other Philippine fruits and produce, which she did.
She came up with a line of coffee liqueur and local fruit flavored liqueurs.
In 2010, Olivia began working on the next product she wanted to launch. Coffee was becoming popular then and, being a coffee lover, she came up with the Amadeo Coffee Liqueur. It was distinctly Filipino as it was infused with local barako coffee beans.
Manille Calamansi Liqueur was launched in 2014. A year later, she came out with the Manille Dalandan Liqueur. The products were so well received that Malacañang would give them out as gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries.
She went back to the company’s roots and began producing traditional local spirits such as lambanog, and Olivia boasted that what they produce now is much better than Don Bonifacio’s original version.
In 2015, the company was approached by the Department of Agriculture to come up with a chocolate-based product for the Madrid Fusion Manila that year. This led to the development of Intramuros, a chocolate-based liqueur. Olivia said she named it after the Walled City, as it was the Spaniards who introduced cacao and brandy to the country.
She was also approached by former Ilocos Sur vice governor Victor “DV” Savellano, who wondered if they could improve basi, the sugar-based spirit the province produces. The large Ilocano contingent living abroad was unable to obtain basi outside of the Philippines because local producers could not meet international standards and requirements.
Olivia traveled to Vigan to meet with the province’s oldest and best known basi maker. She standardized the process of fermentation and, to attract modern drinkers who might find the traditional flavor too herby or woodsy, Olivia tweaked the recipe with the herbs used to flavor the basi. This led to the launch of Destileria Limtuaco’s version of the basi, branded as the “Vigan.”
Olivia credits her husband, Benny Aw, for his full support for the company’s expansion and innovation. Benny handles Destileria Limtuaco’s international sales.
Like Olivia, Benny also works for the company. The couple has three sons: Clifford, Aaron and Brandon. As with her forefather, she has begun training the sixth generation of Limpe leadership. As to what the three brothers will contribute and bring to the company, we shall have to wait and see.