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Amaro (plural "Amari") is Italian for "bitter", a type of drink the Italians didn't invent, but have made into an art form. Amari are commonly drunk as after-dinner digestifs and usually have a bitter-sweet flavor, sometimes syrupy, with an alcohol content between 16% and 40%.
Amari are typically made by macerating herbs, roots (often gentian), flowers, bark, and/or citrus peels in alcohol, either neutral spirits or wine, mixing the filtrate with sugar syrup, and allowing the mixture to age in casks or bottles. Many commercial bottlers trace their recipe or production to the 19th century. Recipes often originated in monasteries or pharmacies. Amari are typically drunk neat, sometimes with a citrus wedge, or, today, are used in cocktails. We are big fans.
The Nonino family have been one of the best producers of artisansal grappa in Italy for many years. They began to make a small amount of amaro in the 1930's, and in the 1990's decided to offer a variation on this amaro to the public, under the name Quintessentia.
Like all amaro, this is a distillation of alpine herbs, where bitter herbs (usually gentian root) take pride of place. The original purpose of amari was as a digestif, to settle the stomach after dinner. One of us tends to suffer from heartburn after a large meal, and he has found that an amaro tends to alleviate that problem.
This amaro is, in our opinion, one of the best and one of the easier ones to approach. Frankly, this is terrific stuff, and we keep a bottle open at all times, and one in reserve, just in case Alberta doesn't get its next shipment on time.
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