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

La Trentina Morbida Grappa
94 points
$42
Pale golden yellow color. Rich aromas and flavors of peach cobbler and apricot cookie with a satiny, lively, fruity sweet medium body and a warming, subtle, very long finish with suggestions of jasmine tea, honeyed nuts, bubblegum dust, and pink pepper with light oak. An amazingly vibrant and delicious grappa of the highest order.
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.
Le Giare Gewürztraminer Grappa
93 points
$65
Golden yellow color. Lively aromas and flavors of spice cake, fruit salad, suede, and peony with a silky, bright, off-dry light-to-medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length finish with elements of potpourri, cherry bubblegum, minerals, and cedar with light oak. A very tasty and stylish grappa.
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
Moletto Grappa di Moscato
92 points
$32.99
Clear color. Bright aromas and flavors of raisin bread, figs, and dusty nuts with a lively, off-dry medium-to-full body and a delightful, long finish with elements of peppery spices, anise, mint, and potpourri. A delicious and vibrant grappa for all occasions.
92 points $32.99
Le Diciotto Lune Stravecchia Grappa
92 points
$51
Golden amber color. Attractive aromas and flavors of peach danish, chocolate creme brulee, sassafras, and cola with a bright, fruity sweet medium body and a delightful, medium-long finish with impressions of delicate brown spices, nougat, and pepper with moderate oak. A smooth, creamy, very well aged grappa.
Le Giare Amarone Grappa
91 points
$65
Deep amber color. Lively aromas and flavors of toasty nut brittle, safflower date bread, and suede with a supple, bright, fruity medium body and a tingling, complex, medium-length finish with notes of praline, dried peach, minerals, and bubblegum spice. A tasty well aged grappa for mellow sipping.
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.