Our story begins in Naples, Italy in the late 1800’s with a man named Pasquale Vena. He had traveled to the capital of Campania with his brothers to emigrate to the land of dreams, America. But, something held Pasquale back, and instead he settled down to a simple life of a baker and pastry chef in Naples. He then moved to Pisticci Scalo where he opened Coffee Vena in 1894 and began working on an amaro which would eventually be called Amaro Lucano.
Created from a blend of over 30 herbs, by the turn of the century, the beverage proved so popular that the House of Savoy hired Vena as their official supplier. At the time, Umberto I was ruling the country but was assassinated by an Italian-American named Gaetano Bresci. If you feel inclined you should look into this fascinating story. Even though Bresci was guilty and sentenced to life in prison, he became a folk hero. Today there is even a monument to him in Carrara, Italy and a street was named after him as recently as 1976 in Prato, Italy. Anyway, getting back to the Vena family, they continued to have success over the years and the company now makes sambuca, limoncello and a coffee flavored liqueur.
Amaro Lucano (56 proof)
Visual: Dark coffee brown.
Nose: Quite herbal and slightly medicinal with a root beer character.
Taste: Initially sweet, quickly developing into a bitter edge. I’m reminded of sassafras. Plenty of herb character here and just the right balance of sugar to keep things from getting too intense.
Finish: Medium long with a sweet herbal candy finish.
Overall: A hearty amaro that has a stronger, dark, root presence than many. A few ounces of this over ice with a slice of orange or a twist of lemon makes for a great welcome home at the end of the day.
GSN Rating: B+
For more information go to: The Spirit of Italy