We write regularly about rare spirits we've uncovered, which you'll see below. These updates are posted a bit after they're sent to our mailing list, ensuring dedicated customers get first option to purchase rarities. If you'd like to get on the list, please do—and feel free to contact us with specific requests.
Ramazzotti Amaro Felsina “Lanterna”
Lainate Plant of Milan (Lombardy)
1960’s, 30% ABV
Ramazzotti remains the final Felsina style of amaro that is manufactured and widely distributed throughout the world. Originating in Bologna, and named after the Etruscan city of Felsina that Bologna was built a top of, its one on the most iconic and important botanical builds. The flavor is derived from at least 33 varieties of herbs, spices and roots. Among the main ingredient of Sicilian orange peels, star anise, cardamom, rose, cloves and others are ground into a powder and mixed with caramelized sugar and alcohol.
While macerations called Felsina had been produced in Bologna, and it’s parent region Emilia-Romanga, it was Ausano Ramazzotti who began to produce on a commercial level and properly brand his product. Born in Bologna in 1791 he achieved great success as
a pharmacist and by the early 19th century he took his recipe to Milan and codified the production, debuting his brand in 1815. He was 24 years old.
This was one of the first amari not to be formulated from wine based maceration. In contrast to older styles such as carciofo (artichoke, cardoon, blessed thistle) and alkermez (rose, cinnamon, orange) Ausano knew he would be able to get higher levels of extraction from brandy and distilled spirits through his experiments with solubility.
Ausano’s plant was located in the commune of Lainate, with in the metroploitan district of Milan about 15 kilometers northwest of the city center. By 1848 he had also opened a bar in Via Canonica, near the Teatro alla Scala, in central Milan.
Apart from Ausano’s death, very few other things ever changed in the brand until 1994. It was then that Ramazzotti was acquired by Pernod Ricard and the original Lainate facilty was closed and production moved to the factories of Canelli, in the province of Asti. The bottle above represents not only original Lainate production of the 1960’s but one of the few remaining “Lanterna” bottlings marketed specifically in the Milan market.
Rabarbaro “Bergia” S. Cobianchi of Bologna (Emilia-Romagna)
1980’s, 16% ABV, 750ml
Long established in their native Turin, Coniugi Bergia began producing their iteration of Rabarbaro in 1870. Crafting their build around not only the rhizome of rhubarb, as popularized by Zucca in 1845, but the pronounced petiole (stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem) of the plant as well. A stewed red fruit component, in addition to the heavily oxidative profile, became a hallmark of the brand. Impeccably balanced in all aspects the brand was acquired by the famed S. Cobianchi Distillery of Bologna in 1961.
The brand was later discontinued in the market consolidation of the 1980’s. Surviving bottles showcase dated production of “elixir rabarbaro” at a lower ABV of 16% in an ideal period for consumption.
Clement began in 1887 when Homere Clement purchased the failing estate of Domaine de l’Acajou. Already mayor of the near by town of La Francois he began to cultivate sugar cane not for commercial refinement or molasses production but instead for the fresh sugar cane distillate Rhum Agricole. Taking inspiration from the great Cognac and Armagnac houses he sought to create a terroir driven expression on par with the brandies of his native France.
Officially opening the distillery in 1917 Homere began to produce rum motivated by the growing demand generated by World War I. By 1930 Homere had since passed away and was succeeded by his son Charles Clement who established the first brand of the distillery: Acajou.
Continuing to refine their native spirit Charles re-branded to Clement in 1940 and grew the brand until 1973 when the house was taken over by his sons and brother. Later sold to the local Hayot family, in 1986, they invigorate the brand and distillery with fresh capital securing its presence in international markets and gaining AOC recognition in 1996.
The two bottles in this email show case production under the watchful eye of Charles Clement (he is largely accredited with refining the Clement rums to the superior distillates they are today). Both are single barrel releases that are largely reserved for the European market and Clement’s gift shop. Both casks experience some 10% of evaporative loss a year and were mostly used as the foundation for their XO bottling. These bottlings also represent some of the last unblended expressions from the original distillery before it was moved in 1989.
Clement Tres Vieux Rhum Agricole Clement Tres Vieux Rhum Agricole
Dist. 1970/Btl. 1991 Dist. 1952/Btl. 1991
44% ABV 44% ABV
Petrus Boonekamp L’Amaro
Buton of Bologna
(Emilia-Romanga, 45% ABV)
The amaro is named after Petrus Boonekamp’s opera of 1777 and infused with substances picked from 6 of the 7 continents, especially selected for their digestive qualities. Among the key herbs used in the recipe is galangal (alpina officinarum), a perennial p
lant originating from China and India. The part of the plant used is the rhizome, extracted from the ground in autumn, washed and dried. Widely used in pharmacy as an eupeptico aromatic and calminative, its flavor is pleasantly spicy with a very intense bitterness. Brand is currently owned by Diageo the vast majority of production stay in Italy.
These bottles of Petrus Boonekamp mark the apex of bitterness and high extraction of rhizome based amaro. It also used a heavy amount of angostura bark, something now rarely seen in main stream bitters. It survives due to the cult like following of older Italians who commonly cut it down with a bit of rich simple syrup.
18 Isolabella Amaro of Milan (Lombardy, 30% ABV, 1970’s)
Probably one of the most lamented alterations in amaro production was with the famed 18 Isolabella Amaro. Originally produced by Egidio Isolabella, of Milan, starting in 1870 the brand was later sold to Ilva of Saronno in the 1980’s (unfortunately much better know for its amaretto) though it had gained a huge following after Luigi de Martinis used it in his classic Baby Darling cocktail of 1966.
Composed of 18 different herbs, as the name implies, its remains incredibly concentrated after all these years owing to the fact that these bottles were crafted with actual botanicals as opposed to the extracts that are common to current production. Its fantastic body and weight shows why it was such an attractive modifier to Martini’s stirred agricole rhum cocktail. Loaded with oxidative flavor profiles of Chinese rhubarb, dried Seville orange, demerara sugar, cola nut and Fo-Ti root it is also fantastic in an aperitif format with ice and club soda.
2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1 oz Isolabella 18