Genziana liqueur - Liquore alla genziana
The traditional production area for this gentian-based liqueur is in the Abruzzo mountains where the plant can be gathered, although it is now made all over the region.
Genziana is a deep straw yellow colour, of average alcohol content, and with the typical aroma and taste of the gentian, which are intense and easy to identify.
It is made by cold infusion of Genziana lutea roots in pure ethyl alcohol (95% vol.). The plant, with its typical yellow blossom, grows only in Europe; in Italy it will only flower in specific Alpine and Central Apennine zones, at an altitude of 1000-2000 metres.
The gentian has fleshy tap roots of a yellowish brown colour, containing bitter elements like gentiopicroside (3.5-15%) and amarogentin (0.01-0.5%), as well as being rich in sugars (gentianose, gentiobiose and sucrose) for up to 50-60% of its dry weight. The roots are usually gathered in autumn, the most appropriate moment, from plants which
are at least five-six years old, then they are cleaned, washed in running water to free them of final earth residue, and then they are left to dry.
Whilst they are used directly for infusion in domestic production, in commercial production they are cut up and left to
dry in well-aired premises, in order to have the raw material available for a longer period of time. Cold infusion in ethyl alcohol lasts for a period of at least 40 days. The liqueur does not have any particular requirements for ageing even though it is preferable to bottle the product after at least a month, so as to get the benefit of natural decantation, before careful filtering to remove any lingering impurities. Dilution in sugar and water brings an average alcohol level of about 30% vol.
This liqueur is part of the ancient custom on the Abruzzo Apennine of producing small amounts of wine aromatized with gentian roots, used as an excellent digestive drink. Later the wine was replaced with a hydroalcohol solution that heightened the extraction of the root’s natural ingredients, thus also increasing the fragrance of the end product. Over time regional herbal and liqueur-producing traditions were extended to include various recipes handed down over the centuries and creating some excellent, genuine products with great digestive properties.