What is Tuaca? The Italian Vanilla Liqueur Explained

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 12, 2023

Tuaca liqueur is a vanilla-flavored liqueur from Italy. This centuries-old liqueur is based on Brandy and flavored with citrus, herbs, and spices.
What is Tuaca

Tuaca (pronounced "Two-Wa-Ka") is a Brandy-based liqueur and is one of the most popular and bestselling vanilla liqueurs. It has an amber-golden color and is flavored with vanilla, caramel, chocolate, and coffee.

The liqueur originated in Tuscany, Italy. Although it's not fully proven, it is said to date back to the 15th century. So, let's have a look at Tuaca liqueur, its history, and products you can use alternatively.

What is Tuaca?

Bottle of Tuaca liqueur

Tuaca is an Italian Brandy-based liqueur with natural flavorings of vanilla, citrus, herbs, and spices. The liqueur is bottled at 35% ABV and has an amber-golden color.

Quick Facts

  • Produced by: Sazerac Company
  • Websitetuaca.com
  • Origin: Anagni, Italy
  • Released: 1938
  • ABV: 35% (70 proof)
  • Price: $24 
  • Calories per shot (1.5 oz): 154
  • Color: Amber-golden color
  • Taste: Sweet, vanilla, caramel, toffee, coffee, and citrus 
  • Best serve: Chilled or on ice

Best Substitutes

The best alternatives to Tuaca are Galliano and Licor 43. Both are popular vanilla liqueurs that also contain spices for a more complex taste, just like Tuaca.

Below is a short comparison of Tuaca and either of those Tuaca substitutes.

Tuaca Galliano Licor 43
Founded 1938 1896 1946
ABV 35% 30% 31%
Proof 70 60 62
Color Amber-golden Yellow Bright golden
Taste Sweet, vanilla, caramel, and toffee Vanilla, anise, and herbs Vanilla, citrus, and spices
Main flavor Vanilla Vanilla Vanilla
Secondary flavor Caramel Anise Spices
Price $24 $42 $29

Tuaca vs. Licor 43

Licor 43 bottle

The most significant difference is that Tuaca is slightly sweeter with notes of caramel and toffee, whereas Licor 43 has a more pronounced spicy and citric note. Yet still, Licor 43 is my favored replacement for Tuaca.

They're similar in taste, ABV (35% vs. 31%), and price ($24 vs. $29). Both are vanilla liqueurs that are more on the sweet side but with a mix of herbs, spices, and citrus notes in the back.

To me, it's the best substitute when drinking on its own and in cocktail recipes.  

Tuaca vs. Galliano

The main difference between Tuaca and Galliano is the secondary flavor.

While Tuaca is rather sweet and shows notes of caramel and chocolate, Galliano's secondary flavor is anise. Tuaca is also significantly cheaper as it costs only $24 per bottle, whereas Galliano usually sells for slightly more than $40.

Both, Tuaca and Galliano L'Autentico are popular vanilla-flavored liqueurs from Italy. Further, both liqueurs have a dominant vanilla flavor and are flavored with a secret set of spices.

Galliano still makes for a good replacement for Tuaca in cocktails. Yet, bear in mind that it brings a more spicy and aromatic licorice flavor to your drink.

What does Tuaca Taste Like

Vanilla, chocolate, and caramel aromas dominate the scent of Tuaca. It has a strong flavor profile of vanilla, toffee, and caramel. There are notes of citrus, coffee, and raisins in the background.

This sweet and vanilla-forward flavor profile makes it a great fit not only for cocktails that ask for vanilla liqueur but also for recipes calling for caramel-flavored liqueur.

How to Drink Tuaca

The best way to drink Tuaca is chilled or on the rocks. But it's also a pretty versatile ingredient in mixed drinks.

Flavorwise, Tuaca pairs well with citrus fruits, especially orange, but it also works in combination with Brandy or other dark spirits like Rum and Whiskey.

Tuaca liqueur served chilled with orange and rosemary

Tuaca Cocktail Recipe

There are not many cocktail recipes out there asking for Tuaca. However, you can use it as a substitute for any other vanilla-flavored liqueur. Here is a small selection of tasty drink recipes featuring Tuaca.

What is Tuaca Liqueur Made From?

The recipe of Tuaca is a secret. However, we do know that the liqueur is based on Brandy and flavored with vanilla, Mediterranean citrus, caramel, and orange essence.

The Brandy base comes from a small Italian town called Anagni. It is actually a blend of Italian Brandies aging for three to ten years. This blended Brandy is then flavored with a secret mix of ingredients to obtain the characteristic taste of Tuaca.


The roots of Tuaca go way back. As the legend goes, the original recipe of the liqueur dates back to the 1400s. It says that the liqueur once was created in memory of Lorenzo di Medici.

Lorenzo di Medici ruled over Florence, Italy, in the 15th century and was known as a generous supporter of the artists who shaped this remarkable period. Thus, the liqueur recipe has survived more than 500 years.

Also, as mentioned before, the base of the liqueur is Brandy from a small town called Anagni which is close to Rome.

Origin of the name

Furthermore, the name of the liqueur wasn't always Tuaca, though. In the 1930s, the brothers-in-law Gaetano Tuoni and Giorgio Canepa revived the almost forgotten century-old recipe. They named the result a combination of both last names.

International Recognition of Tuaca

The second world war was the start of success in the US. American soldiers stationed in Livorno discovered Tuaca and had fallen in love with its sweet and balanced taste.

As they couldn't find anything similar, an importer from San Francisco began bringing the Italian vanilla liqueur into the States in the late 1950s. Today, Tuaca is a part of the Sazerac Company and is produced in Louisville, Kentucky.

Over time, the brand also tried some different offerings like Tuaca Cinnaster. This cinnamon-flavored liqueur was based on the original Tuaca liqueur but wasn't very successful. Therefore, soon after its release, Cinnaster discontinued again.

Tuaca Liqueur FAQs

What kind of alcohol is Tuaca?

Tuaca is a vanilla-flavored liqueur from Tuscany, Italy. Created in honor of Lorenzo di Medici, the original recipe dates back to the 1400s.

Does Tuaca have sugar?

Like all liqueurs, Tuaca is sweetened and contains about 10mg of sugar per 1oz.

Is Tuaca liqueur gluten-free?

Tuaca vanilla liqueur is based on Brandy, is gluten-free, and contains 35% ABV.

What kind of Brandy is in Tuaca?

Tuaca is based on a blend of Italian Brandy aged between 3 - 10 years. It comes from a small town in Italy called Anagni, located just east of Rome.

Does Tuaca have carbs in it?

Tuaca contains 11mg of carbs, mainly sugar, per 1oz of liqueur.

What is similar to Tuaca?

Some similar alternatives to Tuaca are Galliano L'Autentico and Licor 43. Both are vanilla-flavored liqueurs that are flavored with a secret set of herbs and spices.

What proof is Tuaca?

Tuaca is a Brandy-based liqueur of 70 proof (35% ABV).

How many calories are in Tuaca liqueur?

1 oz of Tuaca liqueur contains 103 calories. A shot of 1.5 ounces contains 154 calories.

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