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Archive for the ‘Spirits & Liqueurs’ Category

Luna Amara is bitter apéritif liqueur created following the “Italian Bitter of Turin” style. A liqueur with a multi-faceted bitter-sweetness of orange, prickly pear, gentian lutea and chicory mingled with rhubarb and vanilla.

Luna Amaro Bitter (46 proof)
Visual: Medium ruby.
Nose: High and bright top notes with a curious nose unlike anything I’ve had. Almost like fading roses in a florist shop.
Taste: Medium range bitterness akin to an artichoke styled amaro. Very little sweetness, but a nice black tea-like character that is bracing.
Finish: Very long with the bitter notes staying with you for several minutes.
Overall: A hearty amaro that does its job well.  One glass and you’re ready for a meal!
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

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History tells us that Roman gladiators flavored their food with Finocchietto believing it to be a source of strength. Don Ciccio & Figli produce ”Finocchietto” with an infusion of hand-picked wild fennel, fennel seed, anise seed and dill blended with sugar and purified water.

As current owner F. Amodeo says, ”Don Ciccio” is my grandfather’s name. He used to be a ’carrozziere’, who owned a small body shop, a flourishing trade in those days, but his true passion was making artisanal liqueurs such as Limoncello. So, with the help of Giovanni Porpora, my other grandfather, a true ’falegname’ wood worker, they built a small distillery on the hills of Furore located in the coastal region in the south of Italy near Positano and Capri. The distillery was built facing one of the most beautiful views on the Amalfi Coast surrounded by 12 acres of lemon trees. This is how our story began, back in 1883. After almost 100 years, the distillery shut down in 1980, because of a massive earthquake. The distillery and the lemon trees were completely destroyed by the catastrophic event. So here I am today, born in a lemon garden, wanting to continue the family business. Don Ciccio & Figli plans to expand the family tradition and to people understand and appreciate the hard work, the love for our art and the passion for artisanal liqueurs that my grandfathers began so many years ago.

Finocchietto Fennel Liqueur (50 proof)
Visual: Very light yellow.
Nose: A licorice scent bomb with the intriguing addition of dill. At first it seems akin to absinthe, but there’s more here than meets the nose.
Taste: The low proof and sweetness make this an easy sipper for a hot day.  The flavor is nothing like what you might expect, as the anise and fennel are quite soft and subdued.  In some ways, I’m reminded of a white sangria.
Finish: Short and mostly sweet.
Overall: Very unique and unusual.  A great alternative to dry vermouth or lillet in vodka based cocktails, or perhaps in a Plymouth style gin libation.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

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After 84 years, Don Ciccio & Figli are honored to introduce ‘Amaro delle Sirene’ to their company’s collection of handcrafted Italian-inspired liqueurs made in Washington D.C. It was last produced in 1931 in Atrani, Italy on the Amalfi Coast by the Monpigar company, one of the leading factories in the early 1900’s producing an amaro in this style. It is barrel aged for 30-45 days in 225 litre French oak barrels, previously used by the Marisa Cuomo Winery, also on the Amalfi Coast. The amaro’s base contains a blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso grapes.

Amaro delle Sirene (58 proof)
Visual: Dark reddish-brown.
Nose: Chamomile, licorice and dried green herbs with a tinge of vine fruit.
Taste: Amazingly well-balanced with a chewy, molasses character that quickly transforms into a herb-bomb. Fragrant in the mouth and with an interesting cooling sensation due to eucalyptus being thrown into the mix.
Finish: Medium-long with a dark raw molasses flavor carrying a keen amount of bright, high spice notes.
Overall: Tasty, unique and very easy to drink.  The company also makes a limited Special Edition of this amaro which is aged in double casks for 5 years.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

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Legend says that the walnut husks needed for Nocino need to be picked on the day of San Giovanni. Don Ciccio follows the same tradition by starting their hand-harvesting process on June 24th. Their Nocino macerates for 8 months and is then aged in steel vats for 3 months.

Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino (58 proof)
Visual: Dark nutty brown.
Nose: Baking spice, ginger cake, and cinnamon.
Taste: Light in body, sweet and spicy with a warm, rich walnut overtone. The spice blend is intensely forward and lingers for a long time, while the nuttiness fades fairly quickly. But, at the very end, a definite walnut flavor comes out leaving no doubt that this is a Nocino.
Finish: Medium long with a lot of warming ginger and cinnamon spice.
Overall: Try this as a shot instead of the typical German digestif.  Very nice also in tiki-style drinks as an alternative to allspice or pimento drams.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

 

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Ferro-China was an aperitivo/amaro created around 1881. History tells us that Cinchona barks were cooked on iron plates before being macerated. Giovanni Porpora, one of the founding members of a small distillery in Italy, formulated his Ferro-Kina recipe in 1967. Today, Don Ciccio & Figli are still producing this Ferro-Kina following their traditional methods by macerating their proprietary botanical blend in terracotta amphoras.

Amaro Tonico Ferro-Kina (20% abv)
Visual: Very dark red-brown.
Nose: Quite herbal and dark with a prolonged deep tonality.
Taste: Lightly fruity and slightly sweet with a fine mid-range of herb and root.  After a few moments, a bitter tinge creeps in, but is quite mild and easy-going.
Finish: Long with the drier, bitter notes holding on for quite some time.
Overall: I’m reminded of artichoke based amaros, but this has a lighter and somewhat more fruity quality. Quite unique and a welcome addition to the bartenders arsenal.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

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Montelobos is an artisanal mezcal made in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca produced with 100% organically certified agave espadín. The mezcal is crafted by world-renowned agave expert Iván Saldaña. It is made according to his vision and passion for agave and artisanal mezcal with respect for traditional production methods, sustainability, and the quality of life in the communities and families who have produced mezcal for generations. Montelobos Mezcal is produced by Casa Montelobos, a Mexican company based in Oaxaca and Mexico City.

For additional insight into mezcal, visit The Anatomy of Mezcal.

Montelobos Mezcal (86.4 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet smoke, roasted agave and toasted bread. Soft and warm like a Mexican sunset.
Taste: Smooth and smokey with a hint of nuttiness. After a few sips, cocoa and corn husk add an offbeat dimension.
Finish: Long, with a gentle smokiness and laid back hint of caramelization.
Overall: A contemplative mezcal which can be paired well with pork, corn or chili poblano dishes. Works well as a nightcap too.  Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Montelobos

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Few vodkas can claim that they are 100% organic. Only one can boast a 97-point rating at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the highest in the history of the competition. I would like to introduce you to the best vodka you’ve probably never heard of, Purus Italian Vodka.

Born in the Piedmont region of north-western Italy in the Alps, Purus is composed of 100% organic Italian grain and water from the Italian Alps. Distilled by the Sacchetto family, who has been distilling alcohol in Italy since 1950, this third-generation family owned and operated company distills their vodka five times and filters it through more than 1.7 million square meters of active charcoal.

The end result is a clean and distinctive spirit, representative of the terroir.

Purus Organic Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Crystal clear.
Nose: Fresh and crisp with a lot of high notes. Slight vanilla and cherry blossom, baker’s chocolate and a touch of salinity.
Taste: Remarkably smooth and soft. A light patina of powdered sugar and slightly crushed peppercorn.  Simplicity in the glass, all the classic elements expected in a world-class vodka are here.
Finish: Medium-long with a clean finish.
Overall: I can only think of a handful of vodkas that have impressed me this much.  Highly recommended!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Purus Vodka

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