Wine Importing and Marketing Services

The Hottest New Spirit in Italy Is Also the Oldest

Photography by: Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by: Summer Moore, Food Styling by: Drew Aichele

*Martini glasses provided by Mociun

Gin might be the hottest new spirit in Italy, but it’s also the hottest old spirit. Like really old. As un-Italian as it sounds to modern ears, gin boasts one of the longest connections to Italian territory of any high-proof option behind the bar. An early form of gin was developed by monks in southern Italy in the 12th century, and juniper—the primary botanical in gin—was a popular drink additive since at least the time of the Romans.

The profound relationship with this particular distillate and its characteristic botanicals is what inspired Portofino Dry Gin, produced exclusively with ingredients from the northwestern Italian region of Liguria, as its cofounder Ruggero Raymo points out. Francesco Bargellini, marketing director for Ginarte, notes that his gin is also crafted using only local botanicals—in this case from the Tuscan countryside—and that the ingredients were also used by Renaissance artists in the creation of their pigments adds another layer of history.

And when Alessandro Malfitana, head sommelier at the Four Seasons San Domenico in Taormina, embarked on a spirits project, he turned to gin precisely because , as a wine professional, he loved the historical depth and terroir-driven aspects of gin. He and his partners make Volcano gin with ingredients sourced from Mount Etna, and their product line also includes a “sur lies” rosé gin that gets its color from time spent in barrels that formerly aged the red wines of Etna.

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