Front Runners September 2015: Italian Heritage

At the beginning of the 17th century, Giovanni Reina, a member of a prominent Italian family from Saronno, acquired a local woman’s recipe for a flavorful almond- and herb-infused liqueur, which today we know as Disaronno Originale. For the first time in 400 years, however, the family-owned liqueur brand has deviated from the centuries-old recipe by creating the limited-edition Disaronno Riserva ($350, disaronno.com).

In contrast to Originale, the Riserva is constructed around 4- and 5-year-old Highland and Speyside blended Scotch whiskies, which intensify the bittersweet, honeyed flavors and boost the liqueur’s proof from 56 to 80. The liquid is then aged from 3 to 6 months in 1938-vintage Marsala wine barrels that are stored in the Reina family’s Cantine Florio cellars in Sicily. The result is a liqueur rich with notes of vanilla-soaked almonds and peppery dried fruit. Only 1,500 bottles have been allocated for sale in the United States.  

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