What is amaro and how is it made?
Did you know that Italy has the greatest number of amaro producers in the world?
Drinking amaro is a practice that has long been highly regarded in Italy, considered as a ritual that is as sacred as drinking coffee, the very beverage to have fueled its consumption.
But we must note that the “amaro” tradition is tied to distillation, a process that boasts a very ancient history in our country, closely linked with ancient pharmacology.
As seen in our previous entry, the start of “bitter herbal infusions in alcohol” cannot be separated from medicine. Monks, pharmacists, alchemists and apothecaries all had to do with alcohol and its extractive properties, especially those of medicinal herbs.
Amaro started out as a drug and was used as such at least until the 19th century. It is no coincidence that the first amaro advertisements boasted miraculous properties, trying to demonstrate a direct correlation between flavor and well-being. Today we know that amaro does not have proven therapeutic efficacy, although it can amplify some substances contained in herbs. And the belief that amaro can help digestion is also a partial myth: high alcohol and sugar content could weigh down the digestive process. However, some amaro extracts can actually help digestion, when drunk in small quantities, on a full stomach.
So, what is an amaro and how is it produced? Let’s check it out.
A DEFINITION OF AMARO
Amaro is a liquor made by infusing a base alcohol sweetened with herbs and spices. Don’t confuse amaro with vermouth, which is a bitter wine to which tinctures from herbs and spices are added. This somewhat bureaucratic definition summarizes all the characteristics of amaro.
- Liquor drink | Amaro is an alcoholic beverage and, according to the law, it must have at least 15%.
- Made through infusion | This is the most important aspect of an amaro. Alcohol infusion “extracts” the substances that give taste and body to the amaro, as well as its mild “medicinal properties”
- Infusion of herbs and spices | Only natural ingredients such as herbs, essences, barks, berries, roots are allowed for infusion
- Sweetened spirit | Amari can all be more or less sweetened to make the taste softer and less sharp.
HOW IS AN AMARO MADE?
The extraction of aromatic substances can take place in four different ways.
The aromas from aromatic plants are extracted through the distillation of an alcoholic infusion. This method guarantees excellent finesse because the aromatic substances are intricately linked to the alcohol.
The extraction of aromatic substances takes place by passing hot water or hot ethyl alcohol over the raw material placed on a filter. This technique is advantageous since it can be done very quickly, but it may affect the original aromas due to the high temperatures. It is mainly used by the industry.
- Tincture or infusion
This method is usually used for amaro. The essences are left to separately macerate for a long time in an alcoholic solution. This enables the extraction of the flavors, aromas and the properties of the herbs, which are later combined together with a mixture of water, alcohol and sugar, measured with precise doses and proportion.
Tincture is the technique behind Amaro Ulrich, revisited and rediscovered by Marolo based on an ancient recipe.
Amaro Ulrich was born in 1854 from the genius of Doctor Domenico Ulrich, an expert botanist and pharmacist. His formula contains active ingredients of 19 herbs, flowers, fruits and roots that make it an invigorating digestif. Notes of gentian, anise and genepi stand out among the various ingredients: its natural production allows for its unique and unmistakable character.
Amaro Ulrich uses a completely traditional technique for infusion and tincture, which keeps the active and aromatic ingredients that characterize the product unaltered.