A small Valencian family distillery in the old stables of the Palau del Marquès de Malferit, could be the origin of one of the emblems of capitalism: Coca-Cola. At least that's what every visitor who drives through Aielo de Malferit, a municipality of almost 5,000 inhabitants in the Vall d'Albaida, believes. There, it is claimed that an ancient drink still marketed in the region, Nuez de Kola-Coca, inspired pharmacist John Pemberton to invent the famous American soft drink in 1886. Let's find our more...

Report by Karla Ingleton Darocas ( (c) 
The tradition of alcohol production in Aielo dates back to the 18th century and is a by-product of wine growing.

The "Botellería or Bottle Shop" was founded as a distillery factory specialising in liqueurs, anise, syrup and horchatas. It was created in 1880 through a partnership between Enric Ortiz Garrigós, Ricard Sanz and Bautista Aparici Belda. They bought the alcohol from the Juan distillery.

The "Botellería" promoted their products at important international fairs. They received numerous medals and awards in Milan (1881), Valencia (1883), Rome (1884), Philadelphia (1885), Turin (1886), Barcelona (World's Fair of 1888), Paris (1889 at the World's Fair where the Eiffel Tower was opened), London (1889), Bordeaux (1890), Madrid (1891), Marseille (1890), Izmir (1891). Alexandria (1891), Chicago (1893), London (1893), Jerusalem (1899), Paris (1900), Zaragoza (1908) and Valencia (regional exhibition 1909).

In all, more than twenty gold and silver medals and a dozen diplomas and honourable mentions. But its most valuable distinction was the title of "Official Supplier to the Royal Family", confirmed by a diploma signed by the Regent Maria Cristina of Austria (mother of Alfonso XIII).

Its most praised speciality was the "Celestial" aniseed, which was advertised in the press of the time with the slogan "Drink heavenly aniseed: you have never tasted anything like it".

In 1897, disagreements between the partners led to their separation, leaving Enric Ortiz Garrigós as the owner of the "Botellería". He first sold half of the shares to Joaquín Juan Mompó and then the entire company in 1913, making him the sole owner.

Joaquín Juan Mompó was the lawyer of the Marquis de Malferit, which he took advantage of to obtain the necessary licence and open a new establishment next to the palace, where it still is today. After his death, the business was taken over by his sons, the Juan Sanchís brothers, who continued the business under the name - J J Mompó.


According to the current owner of the factory, Juan Juan Micó, "Bautista Aparici Belda travelled a lot to the United States to find a market. At that time, a plague had wiped out our vines, and he brought back a more resistant vine, which we still use, the American vine. In return, we gave them bottles of Nuez de Kola Coca, a syrup made from the caffeinated fruit of the African kola nut tree and the leaves of the Peruvian coca plant."

Unfortunately, the connection between Bautista Aparici Belda and America diluted. 

Historians believe that Pemberton must have been at the World's Fair in Philadelphia on 8 May 1885 and sampled the Spanish delight from its makers.

A year later, in 1886, John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, tried to make a medicinal concoction from a mixture of coca leaves and Kola nuts. At first, he called it Wine Coca (coca wine) before his accountant suggested calling it Coca-Cola. However, his patent is the same mixture as the Spanish one, except that he mixed his syrup with carbonated water to create a refreshing tonic. 

Despite his discovery or divine intervention, Pemberton did not live to enjoy the successful drink creation as he died two years later. After his death, his heirs sold his formula in 1891 to pharmacist Asa Griggs Candler, who founded the Coca-Cola Company.

In the 1950s, the American company Coca-Cola decided it was time to enter the Spanish market and realised that there was no way around the small factory in Aielo de Malferit. In 1953, Coca-Cola executives visited the Spanish province and acquired the naming rights from Joaquin Juan Sanchis, the owner of the factory at the time. He was allowed to continue producing Kola Coca, but only an alcoholic version. Since then, Nuez de Kola Coca has been a spirit.


Lucía Mompó grew up near Aielo de Malferit and had heard the story all her life that Coca-Cola was invented in Spain. She decided to honour this story and in 1918 became the young entrepreneur behind the brand Malferida, a bottled soft drink . The taste is very similar to Coca-Cola, but it contains no sugar (stevia is used as a sweetener) and is made in Valencia.

Resource Books written by
Karla Ingleton Darocas 
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