One of the better aspects of being a gastronomist student is all the tasting. Cheese, wine, beer, legumes, honey, chocolate and occasionally also Vermouth. This was the case when we visited a couple of weeks ago the Antica Distilleria Quaglia in Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Piedmont. This distillery produces all sorts of alcoholic drinks since 1890. Grappa is their flagship, but they also produce limoncello, amaro, liquors of cherry or chamomile and of course, Vermouth.
We’re probably all familiar with the well-know French Noilly Prat, a white vermouth used especially in cooking. A vermouth isn’t a liquor or a distillate, but simply a wine. A special wine, yes, invented in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, an assistant at a liquor production site. Antonio appreciated the wines made from the Moscato grape, but he wanted to give them a little bit more … style. So he started to add aromatic herbs and spices (cit. wormwood, gentian, marjoram, ginger, vanilla, thyme, hops, sage, chamomile, fennel seeds, saffron, lemon balm, elderflower, pomegranate and cloves) and the new alcoholic drink was born, which he named Vermouth.
The Vermouth of this particular distillery, ‘Vermouth del Professore’ (‘of the Professor’), is exclusively made with Moscato grapes, pure alcohol, and infused with a secret mix of 15 herbs and spices. Especially the white Vermouth is a delicious bomb of flavors, created to be served as an aperitivo, without adding anything else. If you can get your hands on one of these bottles, you can call yourself a lucky (wo)man!