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Zara and Luxardo; The Dalmation Coast and its Native Liquor

Luxardo Maraschino
Torreglia (Veneto)
1950’s, 1000ml, 32%

Almost exclusively produced in Italy, aside from some very recent domestic U.S. production, Maraschino has its origins on the Dalmatian coast of current day Croatia.

luxardorealIn the mid 1759 Francesco Drioli, a Venetian merchant, began industrial-scale production of maraschino in Zara, Dalmatia (at the time its was a part of the Venetian Republic). Following production practices outlined in Sartori Fasuto’s Arte dell’Acqua di Vita (one the most important books on Western European distillation sourcing information from various producers over some 200 years) he transformed the popular tradition of home maraschino distillation into a refined industry. Obtained from the distillation of Marasca cherries, the small and slightly sour fruit of the Tapiwa cherry tree (cerasus acidior),  native through the Dalmatian coast.

By the end of the 18th century his maraschino had already gained widespread fame and had cornered the major markets in Europe.

zararealThe iconic square greenish bottles were supplied by Murano glass factories and in the early 19th century the straw cover was introduced. This was a typical Venetian method for transporting bottles on long sea voyages and would come to define the brand over the years.

As the reputation of Maraschino grew, so did the name of Zara, which prompted other factories to emerge and become established, particularly that of Girolamo Luxardo who began 1821.

luxardo-maraschinoWith surviving the First World Was the bombing of Zara during the Second World War and and eventual transition to Yugoslav sovereignty the owners of the three most important distilleries, Vittorio Salghetti-Drioli, Giorgio Luxardo (Girolamo’s son) and Romano Vlahov, sought refuge in Italy and rebuilt their businesses in Mira, Torreglia, and Bologna respectively.

By 1946 Giorgio Luxardo had already resumed production, he answered the demands for modernization which a radically altered post-war period called for. With in the same period was the death of Vittorio Salghetti-Drioli, sixth and last heir of the Dalmatian branch of the historic founding family of the maraschino industry of Zara. This ended the two hundred year history of the Francesco Drioli factory, the oldest Italian liqueur company. The company was bought by the Società Finanziaria Europea spa. from Milan, which suspended production shortly afterwards and then closed the business, laying the brand to rest in 1980.

With in the new birthed void of maraschino production Luxardo was primed to dominate the marked and has continued to do so till this very day. In contrast to its original production: the maceration time of the cherries in Larchwood has been shortened and new modern pot stills have replaced the originals.