About Italian Spirits

About Italian Spirits
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

Enrico Toro Torella 72 Liqueur
95 points
$49
Pale golden green color. Herbal, interesting aromas of woodruff, pine sap, aniseed, cinchona bark, and saffron with a satiny, crisp, sweet light body and a tingling, elegant, long cinnamon, sage, thyme, black tea, cedar, and ginger finish. A light, alpine-inspired liqueur that refreshes deliciously.
Averna Amaro Siciliano Liqueur
94 points
$30.99
Brown black color. Aromas and flavors of rosemary, black tea, chicory, cacao nibs, cedar, anise, and menthol with a glycerous, lively, very sweet medium-to-full body and a graceful, layered, long finish with suggestions of black coffee, chocolate-covered caramel, charred nuts, and cinnamon Danish finish. A rock solid bitter liqueur with bold aromas and a silky smooth, balanced palate.
94 points $30.99
Fratelli Vergnano Cioco Artichoke Liqueur
94 points
$31.95
Mahogany color. Exotic aromas of juicy tangerine, saffron, orris root, ginger, cola, stewed plums,cinnamon, and lemon balm with a velvety, vibrant, bittersweet medium body and a warming, involved, medium-long milk chocolate covered nuts, espresso, and chicory finish. A floral-spiked bitter liqueur that will fit in a wide variety of cocktails; expert balance makes this a nice choice to sip neat after dinner.
Awards: 2018 Best Bitter Liqueur
94 points $31.95
Foro Amaro Speciale Liqueur
92 points
$28.99
Mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of cola, licorice, orange zest, tiramisu, and chamomile with a round, crisp, fruity medium body and a smooth, easy finish conveying suggestions of chocolate-covered figs, alpine herbs, and orris root finish. A rich and round amaro that’s exceptionally well balanced.
92 points $28.99
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
Faretti Biscotti Liqueur
91 points
$28.99
Golden amber color. Roasted aromas and flavors of roasted hazelnut. fennel, cashew, anisette biscotti, almond macaron, candied orange peel, old fashioned donut, and coconut cream with a velvety, crisp, sweet light body and a smooth, refreshing, medium-length finish that shows elements of mocha and caramel finish. A rich and appealing hazelnut liqueur to slip into coffee cocktails for a decadent treat.
91 points $28.99
San Pellegrino Essenza Lemon & Lemon Zest Sparkling Flavored Water
91 points
Feint aromas of Italian lemon rind and kiss of vanilla cream with a supple, crisp, dryish light body and a delightful, buoyant finish of slate, hints of fondant, and sea spray. A zesty and well-balanced flavored sparkling water with an all-natural appeal.
Select Aperitivo Liqueur
91 points
$29.99
Neon red color. Complex aromas of bitter orange, cinnamon, gentian, baked peach, ginger powder, ginseng tincture, coriander, and cardamom with a satiny, bright, bittersweet medium body and a polished, complex, medium-long black licorice, strawberry tisane, grapefruit pith, and vanilla finish. A very attractive bitter liqueur with loads of complex spices that will make excellent spritzes and aperitivo cocktails.
Awards: 2018 Best Aperitivo
91 points $29.99
Pallini Peachcello Liqueur
90 points
$26.99
Amber color. Candied aromas and flavors of apple candies, pineapple syrup, dried apricot, juicy pear, fruit stripes gum, sweet ginger, and spearmint with a glycerous, crisp, very sweet medium body and a smooth, medium-length finish that shows notes of bitter orange and peach gummies finish. A slightly tropical, peachy liqueur to add fun fruity flavors to cocktails.
90 points $26.99
Pallini Raspicello Liqueur
90 points
$26.99
Dusty garnet color. Aromas and flavors of ripe sour cherries, strawberry jam, and rhubarb compote with a syrupy, bright, sweet full body and a smooth, appealing, medium-long finish imparting impressions of sweet cherry flesh and skins, ripe blackberry, mulberry, and artisan raspberry jam finish. An all-natural liqueur with vivid berry notes and a sophisticated slightly vinous note.
90 points $26.99