The problem with liqueurs? They’re too easy to make. In uncaring corporate hands this often means defaulting to the lowest level and making mediocre product with low cost and high return on investment. Solerno Sicilian Blood Orange Liqueur defied that model with a Sicilian vengeance, and impressed the judges at the 2012 Los Angeles International Spirit Competition sufficiently to win the gold medal and Best of Class by acclamation.
Why is Solerno so good? Quality, complexity of flavor, and a uniquely delicious flavor profile. It’s not a generic liqueur created in a factory by dumping synthetic chemical flavors and masses of sugar into a neutral spirits base. Quite the contrary: Solerno is the product of triple distillation of high-quality natural ingredients to achieve a harmonious and intensely satisfying flavor experience that evokes its Sicilian heritage.
How do they do it? The triple distillation is not re-distilling the same product to eliminate flavors; this triple distilling is of the three basic elements that comprise the essential flavors. First there is the distillation of ripe and pungent flesh of Sicilian Blood Oranges (Sanguinello) in small batch copper alembic pot stills. The second distillation is of the zest, the outer skins containing the citrus oils of the oranges. The third distillation is of remarkably delicious Sicilian lemons.
The three are blended carefully into crisp, clean neutral spirits so as not to disguise or alter the natural flavors of fruit, and then sweetened with beet sugar. Beet sugar is important here: it is a lighter, brighter, cleaner and less intrusive fructose sugar rather than the sticky, cloying corn syrup used in most liqueurs.
Solerno is enticing, reminiscent of the sun-drenched island of Sicily, redolent of the blood oranges, made even more piquant with the tantalizing bitter essence of the dried orange peel, and braced perfectly with the sweet, tangy Sicilian lemon.
And Solerno is not at all sticky or cloying either; the beet sugars keep it soft and silky, and the citrus flavors re-assert themselves strongly on the finish, drying out the overall impression of the liqueur and leaving a long citrusy finish lingering on the palate.
One taste and it’s easy to understand the enthusiastic response of the judges and the shower of gold medals at the Los Angeles Spirits Competition. The judges know a winner when they see one…or taste one.
Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur is imported by William Grant and Sons and is widely available in the U.S. market.