As the name suggests, Amaro Montenegro is a member of the Amaro family. This category of liqueurs results from infusing a selection of herbs, plants, flowers, barks, and roots into a base spirit. One can find a great selection of types and brands, which all range between 16% and 40% in alcohol.
Initially named "Elisivir Lungavita", the liqueur was renamed Amaro Montenegro in honor of Italy's second Queen - Princess Elena of Montenegro. And until today, that is Italy's best-selling Amaro.
What is Amaro Montenegro?
Amaro is the Italian word for bitter - and Amaro Montenegro is a bittersweet liqueur produced by macerating various herbs and plants. Also, it has a neutral spirit base instead of wine or Grappa.
A total of 40 different botanicals create its distinct taste of Amaro Montenegro. A complex multi-step process makes the perfect balance between all those ingredients. But first to the history of the liqueur. -I'm going to describe the process in more detail a little further down, in the production process paragraph.
History of the Amaro Montenegro
The herbal liqueur was established in 1885 by distiller Stanislao Cobianchi. The influential Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, a journalist and aristocrat, once called it the "liquor of virtues."
To find the perfect ingredients for his masterpiece, Cobianchi traveled across four continents. And during these travels, he collected all kinds of flowers, roots, leaves, citrus peels, woods, rinds, barks, seeds, stems, and fruits.
Cobianchi, being the master herbalist he was, extracted the essence of his ingredients in a meticulous multi-step process. This process has been handed down from generation to generation and is still applied today. And the production is overseen by a Master Herbalist whose responsibility is to ensure consistent top quality.
The production process
As is often the case with herbal liqueurs, the recipe of Amaro Montenegro is guarded closely. So it is unknown which 40 botanicals make this traditional Amaro. However, the brand reveals a few on their website: coriander seeds, artemisia, oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, plus sweet and bitter oranges. But the selection of ingredients is just the start because how they are processed is just as important - and complicated.
The procedure requires boiling, macerating, and distilling the mixture. At first, the ingredients are minced and then cooked to release their full aroma. After that, the botanicals get macerated in an alcoholic solution for about 20 to 30 days. The results are various extracts of our botanicals which are distilled to form the heart of the herbal liqueur. At the very end of the distillation, there are 12 mother essences left.
By carefully mixing and blending those 12 essences, the Master Herbalist creates the six tasting notes of Amaro Montenegro:
- Bitter and herbaceous
- Spicy and floral
- Chocolate and caramel
- Fresh and balsamic
- Vanilla and red fruits
- Warm and tropical
These tasting notes are married with the help of water, sugar, and alcohol before the final ingredient is added.
The final ingredient is the true core of Amaro Montenegro. The name of it is "Il Premio", and it's the fundamental component of the secret recipe. The flavor of the Premio note is so intense that a single drop is enough to define the taste of one full bottle of Amaro Montenegro. So one liter of Premio is enough for 15,000 bottles.
What does Amaro Montenegro taste like?
Generally, Amaro Montenegro is quite sweet and fruity compared to many other Amaros. You can smell notes of cola, freshly cut coriander, as well as hints of pepper.
When poured in a glass, the digestif reveals its golden amber color with copper highlights. The taste is predominantly sweet with slightly bitter notes. Flavors like orange zest, vanilla, coriander, and clove also shine through. The aftertaste is bitter and citrusy, but that doesn't take away from the overall sweet taste.