Tosolini Saliza Amaretto 70cl
Amaretto takes its name from the Italian word ‘amaro’, meaning ‘bitter’, with the suffix ‘-etto’ to then expand to ‘a little bitter’. Commonly described as an almond liqueur, most amaretto brands don’t actually use almonds, instead using oil from apricot kernels alongside burnt sugar caramel and a variety of spices for the bulk of the flavour – although almonds are indeed sometimes used. Why? Because while the flavour profile is extremely similar, the costs of production are MUCH lower when using apricot kernels as almonds themselves are pretty damn expensive.
The history and creation of Amaretto is muddied by the claims of two families. Legend has it that Amaretto was created by a model of the artist Bernardino Luini, a former pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, who was commissioned by the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie in the Northern city of Saronno in 1525. His fresco ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ included an image of the Madonna of the Miracles, and Bernardino used a young innkeeper who was widowed as his model. As thanks for being his model she gave him a gift of an amber liqueur made by steeping apricot kernels in brandy – possibly as a potion to make him fall in love with her, as they became lovers and eventually married.
A century later, Giovanni Reina discovered the original recipe for the liqueur, and passed the secret formula down through generations of the Reina family, until Domenico Reina produced it on a larger scale, selling it from his grocery store in the centre of Saronno at the start of the 20th century – the Reina family continue to run the parent company for what is now known as DiSaronno Originale.
However, the Lazzaroni family strongly dispute this legend, instead claiming the liqueur was actually created by them in 1851 when they macerated their almond flavoured cookies in a base spirit to create a sweet liquid – a process they continue to do to this day.
Apricot kernels contain poisonous hydrogen cyanide compounds so the pits are steeped in alcohol to draw out the flavourful oils without also extracting the toxic elements, with cold pressing occuring to protect the oil from heat and maintaining its quality. Botanicals such as vanilla and sweet spices are added to the liquid to add complexity, and burnt sugar caramel increases the sweet notes and add colour.
Bepi Tosolini is named after Giuseppe Tosolini, who in 1943 began to distil high quality grappa, a spirit which had previously been treated as a crude, rough spirit distilled from the leftover waste of winemaking. Now in the third generation of family ownership and based near the Slovenian border, Tosolini has expanded to produce a wide range of grappas, brandies and liqueurs.
Saliza is named after a small alleyway in Venice near Piazza San Marco where there rests a red stone in the shape of a heart – legend has it that when lovers touch they will remain in love forever.
The Amaretto liqueur made from crushed almonds infused in alcohol and redistilled, before more base alcohol, sugar and caramel are incorporated, with a small amount of Tosolini’s own aged brandy being added to increase depth and complexity. It’s quite frankly the best Amaretto liqueur I've ever come across, with a rich texture and soft almond notes. Find out more here:
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