Words by: Simon Difford
An Italian liqueur with an almond-apricot flavour. The flavours of the bitter almond and the apricot marry together well as they are both from the same fruit genus, Prunus. Bitter almonds are the kernels of the Prunus amygdalus amara from which amaretto's slight bitterness comes.
The name amaretto comes from a diminutive of 'amaro', the Italian word for bitter, referencing the bitter almond (mandorla amara) so essential to the balance of a good amaretto. Some say the name means 'a little bitter while others say amaretto is a conflation of amaro (bitter) and amore (Italian for love), perhaps a reference to the fairy-tale story of the creation of DiSaronno, which claims to be the original amaretto.
There are hundreds of brands of amaretto made in Italy with liqueur produces in other countries such as France also producing liqueurs of the same style which they also label amaretto.
Amaretto is a versatile cocktail ingredient and we have over 90 amaretto cocktail recipes here on Difford's Guide.
This amaretto liqueur is made from the maceration of almonds and other stones (apricot, cherry stones) in neutral alcohol by Giffard & Cie, a fourth generation family-owned and run liqueur producer in France’s Loire Valley. Marzipan, almond and vanilla nose with macaroon and a whiff of dried apricot.
Said to have been first created in 1525 by a young widow who posed as a model for Bernardino Luini, an artist from the Leonardo da Vinci’s school of art. Luini used her as a model for his portrait of the Madonna which can still be viewed in the Chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Saronno. Pungent and alluring bitter almond, marzipan and Christmas cake icing.
Lazzaroni Amaretto has been produced and bottled since 1851 in the Italian town of Saronno, where it was developed by Paolo and Davide Lazzaroni. It shares the same branding with the Amaretti del Chiostro di Saronno cookies and is made by infusing these with alcohol rather than from an essence. Pungent honeycomb, dried apricot, bitter almond and marzipan.
Bols Amaretto is made, true to the Italian origins of this liqueur, from a distillation of almond and apricot kernels which have first been steeped in alcohol. Apricot contributes the most flavour. Rich marzipan, macaroon and battenberg cake with faint dried apricot.
Bepi Tosolini Salizá is a traditionally made Italian amaretto made with crushed almonds rather than concentrates or extracts. Formerly named Mascarada Amaretto Veneziano, The Salizá name feres to an old Venetian legend. Inviting toasted almond and dried apricot with vanilla and a hint of orange zest.
A foaming agent and an ingenious - and trademarked - plastic pump injects air into this liqueur and creates a foam as it is dispensed. The pump is designed so that it works whether you hold the bottle horizontally or vertically. Full on amaretti biscuit nose.
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. Attractive toasted almond and marzipan.
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