Branca // Lombardia, Italy
Fernet-Branca was created in 1845 by Bernardino Branca in Milan where it is still made today. It is made from a proprietary recipe of 27 different herbs, roots, and spices only some of which are disclosed. They include: aloe ferox, bitter orange, chamomile, cardamom, cinchona bark, cinnamon, galangal, gentian, iris, laurel, laraha, linden, myrrh, zedoary and saffron. It is aged in 15,000-20,000 liter Slovenian oak vats for at least a year. Due to the popularity of the brand in Argentina, a second distillery located outside of Buenos Aires was founded in 1941. Fernet-Branca & Coke is how it is most consumed there.
AmaroAmaro means “bitter” in Italian. No legal definition exists, and though it originated in Italy, amaro (plural: amari) can be made anywhere. Originally created to aid in digestion, it is a bittersweet liqueur made from the maceration or distillation (or combination) of herbs, spices, roots, flowers, or other botanicals. Often uses neutral spirit as the base, but other liquor or wine made be used. Can be aged. Sugar is added before bottling. ABV varies, but tends to be 20-40%.
"Fernet-Branca has a coffee colored tint and intensely spiced aroma. Going back to it you'll find notes which stand out, particularly menthol which is present throughout but especially on the finish. Orange peel and camomille are other aromas. Although there are some fruit notes on the taste, the overwhelming notes are barks and spices. The fernet has a medium-plus fullness, a moderate sweetness and bitter finish, although there are more bitter amari and fernets out there. To many, there is no other brand of Fernet so this serves as a sort of benchmark for the category. "