IWRS Magazine October 2012
Rossi D’Asiago master distiller Andrea Gallottini (right) guides us on a journey to discover Antica Sambuca in a series that explores the spirit’s origins, history and heritage.
The word ‘Antica’ in Italian means ‘something from the past’ – but not necessarily old or obsolete.
This is because sambuca is a liqueur with a long history, spanning people and traditions. Sambuca’s origins are far off in time, but also in space, and it remains a typical traditional Italian product, and a success all over the world.
Gallottini, driven by a passion for his job as master distiller and for history in general, undertook a long and thorough research into sambuca’s origins. He interpreted many historical writings and pieces of evidence to arrive at a precise and linear history of sambuca.
The definition of sambuca as required by law is an aniseed liqueur containing distillates of anise (pimpinella anisum), star anise (illicium verum) and other aromatic herbs, with a sugar content of not less than 35%, and a natural anethole content of not less than 0.1% and not more than 0.2%.
The minimum alcoholic strength is 38% abv. Any anise-based liqueur that has the above characteristics is entitled to use the name ‘sambuca’. The most intriguing aspect in any research is the discovery of curious anecdotes that testify how a product’s evolution is usually the result of daily necessities, such as home remedies and physical well-being.
In the next issue we’ll focus on star anise, the main ingredient of sambuca, going back centuries to the time of the Babylonian civilisation, where history and magic are intertwined.