Luigi Sarti, and his family, opened their distillery in the spring of 1885 in their native Bologna. The facility was opened in an initial effort to meet the high demand for cordials such as kummel, cherry brandy and triple though the popularity of Luigi’s alpine/arquebuse/genepy inspired “bianco” amaro soon became the flagship brand.
Biancosarti was a rectified macerated spirit that lay halfway better a vermouth and bitter, thus spawning the category: amaro bianco. (Higher ABV of 35%, full bodied unlike many white vermouths of the time, no barrel aging). Primarily flavored with orange, chamomile, Artemisia, cardamom and gentian root there were likely another some 15+ other botanicals used as well in its early iterations.
Initially the label and advertising featured “aperitif-digestive” as Biancosarti was not only a top class aperitif with soda and ice but proved to have a digestive efficiency as well.
In 1943 the factory was completely destroyed during the bombing of Bologna, an important railway junction in northern Italy. The Sarti’s, like many other liquor and wine producers, for logistical reasons, stood near t
he stations to facilitate transportation.
The plant was rebuilt in 1947 and Biancosarti quickly became a cult product over the next 70 years with famous commercial spots including Telly Salavas as Lieutenant Kojak and Lieutenant Sheridan, played by the great Ubaldo Lay.
Given the success of carbonated aperitifs, especially of Campari Soda, Sarti launched Sartisoda in the 1950’s, with an unprecedented hype and welcomed reception in the market.
Sarti continued to produce as a family till the early 1970’s when the remaining brands were acquired by Bols and later sold to Gruppo Campari in 1995. Like many of the amari that have shifted ownership over the years Biancosarti underwent a number of production changes. Current iterations are artificially colored, have a lower ABV of 28% and use certain amounts of liquid extracts in place of actual botanicals.
The bottle to right represents some of the first production of Biancosarti from the reconstructed distillery in the early 1950’s. Bottled at its original ABV of 35% and devoid of any artificial coloring.