Friday, December 23, 2022

Herbal Liqueurs: Amaro Montenegro 1885

We are sticking with Amaro in our Herbal Liqueur series with the Amaro Montenegro 1885. As the name suggests, this liqueur was launched in 1885 by Stanislao Cobianchi in Bologne, Italy.  Cobianchi was born in Bologne in 1862 and soon traded in his clerical robes and traveled the world tasting dozens of botanicals. Upon returning home to Bologne he experimented for four years with various recipes and when satisfied established the Cobianchi Stanislao Steam Distillery in 1885 and produced the Elisir Lungavita. Eleven years later, the future King of Italy, Prince Vittorio Emanuele III, married Princess Elena of Montenegro and this event inspired Cobianchi to change the name to Amaro Montenegro. For all intents, King Victor Emmanuel III and Queen Elena were the last monarchs in Italy with the country voting to establish a Republic in 1946.

The Amaro Montenegro is produced using 40 botanicals, including spices, dried fruits, roots, seeds, bark, citrus peels, flowers, and species of wood sourced from around the world. Of these 40 botanicals, only 13 are publicly known and are categorized into 3 different aroma profiles: citrus, spice, and herbal.  After the botanicals are boiled, macerated, and distilled, 12 unique essences remain. These essences then undergo a delicate blending process performed by the Master Herbalist to create the six notes of Amaro Montenegro: bitter & herbaceous, spicy & floral, sweet & roasted, fresh & balsamic, fruity & vegetal, and warm & tropical. There is also a final step called the Premio. This involves the micro-distillation of 5 secret botanicals that is so potent that for every 15,000 liters of Amaro Montenegro, only one liter of Premio is used. Cobianchi wanted to create a unique bottle for this elixir and hand-drew the outline for this iconic bottle.

This is a very pleasant and easy sipping amaro. On the nose expect oranges and baking spices which continue into the core flavor. The lasting finish includes limes and interestingly, cucumbers, for a very pleasant and easy elixir. Amaro Montenegro suggests several cocktails so we mixed the following:

Monte Mulled (because it's the season)
Warm up equal parts Montenegro, brandy, unfiltered apple juice, and one teaspoon of honey in a heated saucepan. Heat until steaming, then ladle into a glass mug, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Monte & Mezcal (because I love Mezcal)
Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour equal parts Montenegro and mezcal into the glass. Very simple.

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