The Whisky Exchange
Aged: No age statement
Product of: Italy
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Punt E Mes was created by Carpano in 1870 and its popularity soon ousted bars' other vermouths. In those days, individual customers would specify the style of vermouth they wanted, choosing between bitter and sweet and requesting particular herbs and spices which would be drawn from bottles behind the bar. As in today's coffee shops, a language grew around the terms for each style of drink being ordered.
Turin was then the Italian capital and The Carpano bar was frequented by customers from the nearby Turin Stock Exchange. At the end of a particular day’s trading, when some key stocks had just fallen by one and a half points and the bar was full of traders, a businessman ordered a particular style of bitter-sweet vermouth in Piadmontese dialect: ‘Ca-m dag-n punt e mes’ (‘Give me a point and a half’).
He was simply requesting one and a half points of bitterness to be added, but those around him laughed at the coincidence to their discussions on that day’s trading fall - and so the drink was created and named.
Stockbrokers at the Carpano bar used to show off by ordering the drink using a stock broking hand signal. They would hold up one thumb (a point) and then draw their hand horizontally through the air, indicating a half.
The company remained family-owned until being taken over first by Silvio Turati, a Turin industrialist, and then by Fratelli Branca. Sadly an air raid in 1943 destroyed the original Carpano bar.
Punt E Mes is made by adding more than 10 different herbs and spices, including orange peel and quinine, to a blend of dry white wine.
Review and Tasting
Sampled on 06/06/2011
Clear, dark reddy-brown.
Aromatic with cinnamon, a hint of smoky tobacco, Christmas tree in a warm room and Christmas spices.
Bittersweet with lightly syrupy honeyed notes, stewed fruit including: damson, sloes, cherries, prunes, vanilla, cinnamon, tobacco, a touch of red pepper, bitter cranberry and orange zest.
Round fruity finish with well-judged bitter tannins.