UK (32% ABV) 500ml
Joe Stella dates his love of amaro back to his days tending bars in Melbourne, some 20 years ago. His love of bitter flavours started somewhat earlier, as a young Italian lad sipping on chinotto as his mates enjoyed their Coca-Cola. Following the early success of his Stellacello Pompelmo (a stunningly delicious grapefruit-based liqueur), Stella took on a very personal challenge, in 2014, to create an original, London-bred amaro of a quality that could stand alongside his extensive collection of the finest Italian amari.
Some 25 ingredients are used, (including Bethnal Green's finest imported grapefruit peel and flesh, coriander seed, black peppercorn, orange zest, rosemary, Madagascan vanilla pod and whole fresh rhubarb), each added to a long, staggered maceration in neutral spirit. The sweetness--essential to balance the drink's bitter elements--comes from the traditional addition of sugar syrup.
The resulting brew carries heady scents of sarsaparilla, neroli, blackberry and currants, backed up by vibrant citrus and cinnamon. On the palate, you get notes of cola, burnt orange and red liquorice, with a soft and subtle bitterness balancing the well-rounded texture.
Perhaps the best way to familiarise yourself with the brilliant quality and class on offer here is to serve this neat over ice as an after-dinner drink, although its measured sweetness and gentle bitterness also make it an ideal cocktail ingredient.