In today’s article I well tell you how it was more than worth it to drive to “The Victorian in Santa Monica for an in depth discussion on the Fratelli Branca Distillerie. The seminar (was) presented by Nicola Olianas, Fratelli Branca Global Ambassador, coming all the way from Milan, Italy. He (shared) extensive information on the history, ingredients and processes of many of our brands (including Fernet-Branca, Brancamenta, Carpano Antica Formula, Carpano Punt e Mes, Carpano Bianco, Carpano Dry and Caffe Borghetti)…
Nicola has worked as the Fratelli Branca Global Ambassador for the past 7 years. He is Involved in the production processes, research and discovering their history and roots. He worked for many years as a bartender in Italy and the UK.”
Olianas greeted his guests with a simple cocktail of Antica Formula (the world’s first red vermouth created in 1786 by Benedetto Carpano), club soda, a lemon slice and ice. This would be our apéritif before a light lunch and before we dipped into examining seven different expressions from the Fratelli-Branca portfolio. (I have seven photos of our day here.) But first we had to learn a few things:
- The herbs and roots, 27 of them, used in the liqueurs come from four continents. So whatever they add, it’s been done in house and from scratch. (And, in my tasting notes below, not that easy to pick out.)
- The Fratelli Branca Distillerie in Milan houses the production, storage, a museum…and an apartment overseeing it – and that’s where Olianas resides.
- The recipe for each liqueur is a secret, even the order of when each ingredient is added matters and is also a secret.
- The flavors come from the ingredients: Monday the distillery smells of chamomile, Tuesday it’s espresso beans, and so on.
- Some of the barrels, all neutral oak, hold up to 1,300 liters.
- There are now six generations of this family owned company; five generations of workers too.
- Just some of the roots, spices and herbs include saffron, ginger, bitter orange, sweet orange, aloe, chamomile, Chinese rhubarb, peppermint, Myrrh…
- When Olianas referred to Fernet-Branca curing cholera I had to Google that. “Bernardino Branca dreamed up (Fernet-Branca) in 1845 as a cure-all to treat cholera and spleen pain, among other conditions. For decades, it was even sold in American pharmacies…” (read more here.)
Aromas and Flavors (These are what I found, but not what they may have actually used in their creations!)
Pine, ginger, mint, chamomile, port wine, bitter coffee…Olianas likes this with ice cream.
Sweet peppermint, a lovely viscous mouth feel, very pleasant chilled…Olianas likes with ice and soda.
Carpano Antica Formula
Sweetened wine, cherry, rhubarb and vanilla notes.
Carpano Punt e Mes
Luxardo cherry, cherry syrup and a hint of vanilla.
Viscous with flavors of bruised lemon and orange.
Fruit cocktail with predominant pear flavors.
Coffee, toast, creamy, thick and, when prompted by Olianas, not sticky to the touch. For this they grind their own espresso beans, add sugar, alcohol and water only. It’s basically a chocolate martini in a bottle. Yum.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com