Review – Disaronno Amaretto
Legend has it that Disaronno Amaretto was first conceived way back in Renaissance Italy in 1525 when an innkeeper posed as the Madonna of the Miracles for the artist Bernadino Luini as he painted a commission. It wasn’t until approximately 1900 that this liqueur was put into full production using the same secret recipe that is in use today. Mystery abounds exactly how it is produced but we know at least that it uses an infusion of apricot kernel oil, neutral spirit, caramel, and essence of 17 herbs and fruits.
Nose: An intense aroma of sweet marzipan greets the nose. This is a pungent-smelling liqueur for sure. Just a touch of toasted nuts add a little contrast to the otherwise intense sweetness, as does a hint of that glue you used at primary-school.
Neat: After the intensity of the marzipan on the nose, the first taste is a little disappointing. The sweetness just doesn’t quite carry the same level of flavour as the nose hinted at. Perseverance pays off however, and sure enough as the palate acclimatises the almond notes awaken memories of marzipan and amaretti biscuits. Unlike the nose, which goes heavy on a single aroma, there is in fact more interest to be found in the tasting. Although predominantly nutty, whispers of both vanilla and lemon zest together with a bitterness to balance the sweetness a little can all be detected and make it a more alluring prospect.
Mixing: For almond-junkies, this is an enjoyable liqueur to sip neat, poured into an ice-filled glass just further than you think you really should. Regrettably, this does not mean it makes for the most impressive of cocktail ingredients. Certainly guilty pleasures such as the Amaretto Sour are respectable enough (albeit a little one-dimensional), but the intensity of the single flavour means that achieving a balance somewhere between there being enough liqueur in the drink to notice the impact and not so much as to dominate becomes exceedingly tricky at times. Don’s Delight is one such example, the combination of tequila, bourbon and Amaretto being one that offers potential but in which the Disaronno just can’t quite achieve the right balance. This is hardly Disaronno’s fault, it does what it says on the tin so to speak, but in general it is better to stick with tried and tested old-school cocktails than anything that might be considered more fashionable to todays palate. And so we find moreish, blood-vessel clogging joy in creamy delights such as the Nutty Summer in which Disarrono joins with Advocaat, coconut rum, pineapple juice and cream to create an enjoyable if a little uncooth post-dinner tipple. Similarly, the Orange Brûlée picks up on the success that is almond and orange by combining Disaronno with Cognac and orange liqueur, with more double cream of course. For those determined to steer clear of dairy products, the use of dark rum in the Bella Donna Daiquiri is where you should head. The demerara-laden rum runs the risk of necessitating a trip to the dentist when combined with the Disarrono, but fortunately both mix well with lemon which serves to cut through and create a pleasing twist on the classic Daiquiri.
Signature Cocktail – Disaronno Fronzolo
20ml Disaronno Amaretto, 20ml Orange Juice, 10ml Tio Pepe Sherry, 5ml Sugar Syrup, Champagne.
Shake first four ingredients with ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne.
Disaronno Amaretto is an excellent almond liqueur, if you like that kinda thing. Never will it be the most versatile cocktail ingredient, but what it does, it does well. Rating: ★★★
Disaronno Amaretto is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.