About Specialty Spirits from Italy

About Specialty Spirits from Italy
Any discussion of spirits in Italy must begin with grappa, a powerful product distilled from left over grape skins and seeds that is produced all over the country. While the basic grappas can be rough and fiery, there are a handful of firms, especially in the north, that craft refined, artisanal versions that offer more delicate aromas and subtle flavors. Often packaged in strikingly-designed glass and crystal bottles, many of these dazzling products have now taken their rightful place alongside designer spirits at glamorous bars in London, Paris, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Amaro, a digestif, is a popular liqueur, made everywhere in Italy; each version is produced from a special recipe of herbs and spices. These tend to be dry, with some being slightly bitter. Finally, two other Italian spirits that have become quite popular in America include Amaretto, a sweet liqueur made from almonds, and Sambuca, a dry spirit made from anise seed.

Top Picks for Italy

Specialty Spirits

Pisoni Grappa Stravecchia
93 points
Clear gold color. Bright, fruity aromas and flavors of raisins bread pudding, cinnamon and brown spices, suede, and spicy jasmine chai with a soft, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-long nougat, custard, and spiced fruits finish. A superbly flavorful and balanced grappa with an elegant style.
Bonollo Grappa of Amarone Barrique
93 points
$70
Clear bright golden amber color. Lively, attractive aromas of suede, dried stone fruits, chocolate nuts, and spicy rye bread and maple sap with a satiny, crisp, moderately sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, complex, long vanilla cola, straw mat, mint cream, and limestone finish. A spicy, earthy, well aged grappa that will conclude a meal nicely.
Alexander Grappa di Cabernet
92 points
$39.99
Clear color. Rustic aromas of hay, green tea, dried mango, dried lime peel, and tobacco with a velvety, bright, dry-yet-fruity light body and a medium-long marzipan wrapped cherries, icing sugar, dried lemon peel, and bee pollen finish. A terroir-driven grappa; sip after a good meal.
Awards: 2017 Best Grappa
92 points $39.99
Alexander Grappa Bianca
90 points
$37.99
Clear color. Confected aromas of green pear, tutti fruiti candies, banana marshmallow, guayabana, crisp raw asparagus, and sunflower seeds with a velvety, crisp, fruity light body and a warming, intriguing, medium-length dandelion, marjoram, chamomile tea, banana leaf, and ground peppercorns finish. A fruit-forward Grappa with a friendly nose and a palate reminiscent of the summer countryside.
90 points $37.99
Alexander Grappolo
88 points
$105
Clear color. Floral aromas and flavors of wildflowers, bosc pear, sweet honey, almond nougat, and wisteria with a satiny, bright, dry light body and a tingling, brisk dandelion greens, aniseed, tropical fruit, and ghee finish. A beautiful, perfumed grappa with graceful length.
Pisoni Grappa Chardonnay
86 points
Bright clear color. Mild, earthy, floral oily vegetal aromas of dried grapes and peaches, oiled leather, pepper, and green peppercorn with a satiny, bright, off-dry light-to-medium body and a warming, refreshing, crisp powdered honey, cream, chalk, and fuel-like minerals finish. A clean, well balanced grappa.