A mix of the Armenian sweetest fruits’ taste and aromas
It is not a story of a sharp success or ancestors’ centuries-old traditions. It is a story of a resilient man who risked everything in his life to get the Armenian fruit spirits to a new level. By putting aside his 10 years of experience as an endoscopist and safe life in the capital of Yerevan, Arnag Avedikian and his fruit spirits Dilvados come to approve that nothing can stop the human mind if there is love, care, and dedication. With the background of eight years of constant experimenting, learning, trying, and losing, Dilvados by DOC presents high-quality spirits from Armenian fruits free from any chemical substances and is 100 percent based on organic raw materials. Located in the remote village of Aghavanavanq, miles to the east of the city of Dilijan, Dilvados by Doc is a must-visit place for those who are fond of tasteful fruit spirits. By revealing the important role Dilvados plays for the country and its big potential we are presenting a unique interview with Arnag Avedikian, whose hard work and dedication to his job and land is worthy to be heard and appreciated.
The idea of founding Dilvados came up in 2011 when I was living in Shushi, which is well known for its mulberry vodka. I have never used any fruit spirits before but during my time in the city I got used to it and due to my specialization in medication I understood the chemical substances better than the others. In the beginning, I started to distill spirits for my own interest, while people’s impressions and reactions after trying my homemade spirits motivated me to produce in small quantities for business. It took around 8 years of experiments to get my own version of fruit spirits.
But why “Dilvados”? (smiling). This name consists of three parts: Dil – Dilijan, va – Voda from Russian meaning ‘water’ and finally -os, which in Latin means “bone”. The latter has a very interesting story behind it. Once my friend visited me to taste new spirits. After trying them he said: ‘Listen when I drink your spirit, it trembles me even up to my bones.’ Thereafter, I found it as a good idea and added the particle ‘-os’ to the name. And what makes Dilvados special? It is because I could not mix it with others. Of course, the name Dilvados can be associated with Calvados, but in any case, my concept was the water of Dilijan. During all those years, I noticed how much people liked this name. It has the potential of becoming a good trademark. Truly, there is nothing legendary about this story. I had no one in my family to mind with this kind of business previously or no sort of holy spirit showed up to my grandfather and told him to produce fruit spirits. It is all hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
The idea of Dilvados squeezed me from the first moment and cut me from my job. By that time I’d been working as a doctor endoscopist for 10 years. It brought me to a new life, about which I was totally unaware. In return, it gave me the motivation, hope, and belief that in the future I will be able to get spirits from the Armenian fruits recognized throughout the world. It doesn’t matter whether it will be Dilvados or another brand name, it will become a new beverage for people to use in daily life. People are always looking for new tastes in the beverages, surely, they are tired of the standard, conventional drinks. All the foreigners that have visited us and tasted the fruit spirits, were amazed that there is anything like this. They were really surprised by its taste, and by the fact of it being Armenian. For instance, Baltic countries can name spirits from black plum and quince to be theirs, but I would definitely say that Armenian fruits are sweeter. I believe that despite all the challenges we should reach the point of presenting Armenia as owning fruit spirits. It may take up to 20 years or longer. Maybe instead of me, my children will see it but, in any case, we should go for it. That is what Dilvados gave to me: strategy, ambition, and motivation to go on, to reach my destination no matter what. At the end of the day, witnessing the increasing number of my customers doubles my emotions and enthusiasm. Yes! It took but it gave me a motto to live on.
Undoubtedly, the path was full of challenges, but as a main challenge, I would call it to be the big change in production sizes. To explain, in 2019 I sold 300 bottles of spirit, while in 2022 the number of sold bottles reached 5000. This number may seem to be not a big one for a business, but in any case, the jump from 300 to 5000 in three years as a result of sleepless nights, unstoppable hard work, and enormous patience all season long. Yet another challenge was hosting a large number of guests for tasting since I was not so used to hospitality. Do you know what I found out for myself? Hospitality is not everyone’s business to mind and you need to have the essential skills for it. The talk is not about two-three groups per month, but rather a matter of two-three groups consisting of more than 20 people per month. It is clear, we needed to do our best for them to leave Dilvados with the fullest feelings. In the end, we succeeded in hosting our guests in a way that when I am questioning who our customers are, 80 percent of them are those who have been at Divados. Surely, challenges continue to rise but the dedication and care of the team exceeds everything.
While founding Dilvados I was wondering on the same note: ‘How should I sell it?’. It may seem to be a very easy question, but only at first sight. For me, the most important thing is that Dilvados should not be associated with names, like ‘luxe’ or ‘luxury’. In other words, Dilvados needs to become a nationwide concept. As you may see, the production, tasting house, and even the bottle and its design are done with simplicity. Referring to necessity, actually fruit spirits are necessary for life. Like for what? In general, each drink has its importance and the fruit spirits are not an exception, too. For instance, fruit spirits are very good for appetite and food digestion, while due to their organoleptic attributes aroma and taste attract people. Let’s compare it with fruit vodka. What is it? An aromaless and tasteless beverage with several chemicals in it so people can drink it. In this case, why do you use vodka? If you like drinks with fruit additions, taste, and smell, why don’t you use fruit spirit? It is healthy and pleasant, and why not the fruits also transmit their useful chemicals to the spirits? In any case, I believe that the usage of alcohol is a necessity but in moderate quantities. You can drink a variety of drinks, like wine, vodka, beer, whisky, or cognac, it doesn’t matter, but it needs not pass the limits.
Now the number of my customers is more than ever satisfying and proves me to be on the right track. As mentioned beforehand, 80 percent of my customers are those who have been to Dilvados. Coming from different social classes, my customers at least twice a year cut this long road from Yerevan directly to Aghavnavanq to get their Dilvados. That is what I appreciate the most, since as I have said my brand should firstly be recognized among my nation. It is a very important delicacy, if you want to surprise the world with your Armenian fruit spirits, then your society should acknowledge it before turning to the world. I cannot also ignore the important role tour operators play in this case, too. Due to your hard work, people learn about us and our country.
In the middle of unstoppable and overwhelming work for proper management and hospitality, each experience seems to be crazy in its own sense. However, for me, the craziest experience was the discovery that with the help of propaganda, you can sell everything as ‘exclusive’. Though I do not like brandings such as luxe or luxury, this was a cool experience that proves the power of propaganda. Once I had a rich guest to whom I showed all my spirits and told that one of them is not for sale. He liked all of them so much that bought a box of each spirit. However, at the very last minute, he insisted lots of times to buy just a bottle of that special fruit spirit. In the end, I agreed and sold the beverage twice more than its usual price. My friend who was with us at that time and understood very well what was happening, later told me that the customer was proud to be convincing me to sell the product. While, in reality, I was the one to benefit from it. That was really a cool experience. What was the moral behind it? You can sell everything to people, by the right way of propaganda.
The only acceptable future I visualize for Dilvados is that it should become the pioneer in presenting Armenian fruit spirits to the world. It is that benchmark I follow but before coming to that point it is very important that Dilvados becomes a nationwide brand. For example, I have a local customer, who despite his difficulties, takes all this long road to come and to buy his Dilvados. This is how I imagine Dilvados’s future booth as a brand and as a spirit.
And finally, how does it impact the region? I cannot say that I had an enormous impact on the region, but as a matter of being a small business, it supports the region in all the possible ways. For example, with the help of my business, I employ families from villages to work with us, or at least, I drive along the villages and buy the necessary fruits directly from villagers by stopping them from cutting trees down. At the same time, I set up an infrastructure of sewage, water, electricity, and gas for the village. While as a tourist attraction site, my business also brought new activeness to the village. New people come, buy land, and try to think of new ways of business in the village. Even the villagers say that before Dilvados very few people knew about Aghavanavanq. Let’s not forget that I am also a doctor which lets me give people health-related treatment and advice free of charge, or at least forward them to the good doctors. With the help of those few examples I just want people to let know that without being a prominent famous business I was able to make a change. However, this is not the end, and as long as Dilvados exists as many times it will continue its mission to support and encourage people.
With its unforgettable aromas and tastes, ‘Dilvados’ can become everyone’s lovely friend both inside and outside of Armenia. While coming to Armenia do not forget to stop by and try out their unique fruit spirits and explore Armenia from a lot different perspective. Engraved among mountains Dilvados is another reason to visit Armenia.
We will include a visit to Dilvados in your tour upon request and you can visit it yourself by making a preliminary reservation. The address is House 17, 2nd street, village Aghavnavanq, Tavush region, phone +37495190706.