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Originally from Genova, Girolamo Luxardo moved with his family to the town of Zara in 1817 as consular representative of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Zara, a port city on the Dalmatian coast is now Croatia but then was under Austrian sovereignty after the fall of Venetian republic in 1797.
Dalmatia was the only habitat of the Marasca cherry until well into the 20th century. This bitter tasting cherry is ideal for liqueur production and for centuries the farmers around Zara produced a macerated ‘rose water’ (rosolio maraschino) from the cherry for which the town was famous. Luxardo’s wife, Maria Canevari, was interested in this liqueur, and began making it at home. So regarded was her product that in 1821 her husband, Girolamo, founded a distillery in Zara to mass-produce it.
Girolamo became the largest liqueur producer in the region and he exported his brand of Maraschino to markets worldwide. The carrier doves, which he used for sending messages, became a mark of the company and still feature on bottles today. When Girolamo died (aged 81) in 1865, his son, Nicolo, took over the business.
In 1913 the 3rd generation Michelangelo Luxardo built a new distillery, one of the largest in the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the end of the First World War, Zara was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy as 85% of its population were Italians.
The company prospered until the Second World War when after repeated Anglo-American bombing raids during 1943-44 the city and the distillery was almost completely destroyed. The German troops withdrew and followed the occupation by Tito's communist partisans. The majority of the surviving Italian population fled into exile but many were killed by the partisans. Sadly the unlucky ones included Pietro Luxardo as well as Nicolo II and his wife who were drowned in the Adriatic by Tito's forces.
Giorgio, the only surviving fourth generation brother, with the help of Nicolo III (the young fifth generation) temporarily refounded the business at Venice before Giorgio found the perfect location in Torreglia, Padova. The Euganean Hills provide an ideal climate for growing Marasca cherries, so it is here in 1947, they planted the first orchard. Today that orchard boasts 20,000 cherry trees and is where the still family-owned business still continues to operate.
Luxardo Sambuca is a sweet and strong liqueur made from green Sicilian aniseed. The essential oils of the star anise are extracted by steam distilling and are soluble in pure alcohol. Uniquely, Luxardo’s Sambuca is macerated in pure spirit and matured in Finnish ash wood vats.
Luxardo Maraschino is aged for two years in white Finnish ashwood vats before being put in bottles encased in hand-plaited straw - originally to make transportation safe and now a trade mark exported to over 60 countries.
Luxardo has been making Limoncello since 1906 but with the new bottle introduced in May 2010 came a new formulation with a more intense lemon flavour. This new Luxardo Limoncello has around 25 percent more fresh lemon juice and essential oils from the peel of Sicilian lemons.
The Luxardo family have been distilling fine liqueurs in the Veneto region of Italy for six generations. They make their amaretto with the pure paste of the finest almonds, from Avola in southern Sicily, and age it for eight months in Larchwood vats.
Traditionally all the countries of the Mediterranean basin boast an anise based national liqueur and Italy is no exception. Luxardo flavour their sambucas with green Sicilian aniseed which they steam distil to extract the essential oils which are soluble in neutral alcohol.
Known in Italy as “Marasche al frutto” (literally ‘cherries to the fruit’), these are the Marasca cherries used by Luxardo for distilling its renowned Maraschino liqueur, but here preserved in a jar, 50% candied cherries and 50% syrup. No thickening agents or preservatives are used.
The Luxardio family make this liqueur by extracting essential oils of star anise through neutral alcohol maceration and then distillation. They then blend the distillate with water, sugar, cola flavouring and colouring agents E150b and E122.
The Luxardio family make this liqueur by extracting essential oils of star anise through neutral alcohol maceration and then distillation. They then blend the distillate with water, sugar, pear flavouring and colouring agents E102 and E131.
Made from Marasca cherry juice, we are told this liqueur was named 'Sangue Morlacco' (Morlacco's Blood) by WWI Italian poet and soldier, Gabriele d'Annunzio, in honour of the Morlaccos, fierce warriors of Dalmatia who fought for the Republic of Venice and defended their homeland against the Turks.