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Liqueurs are absolutely fascinating and delicious - and frequently maligned!

In essence they are low-ish alcoholic products with sugar. Like oh so much in the alcohol world their origins go back to quite ancient times and medicine! Frequently herbs were combined with alcohol of one sort or another, either to make the herb easier to ingest or to extract its beneficial influence from it. Next up add a dash of sugar or honey to sweeten to make the “pill” easier to take.

In Mediaeval times, monks did the heavy-lifting to broaden the range of medicines and thus liqueurs and by the 1650s much of this savoir-faire had naturally extended itself into liquid cuisine, mixing tinctures with alcoholic beverages to give them a little extra - either in terms of a health benefit or an improvement in taste. The rest - as they say - is history.

One of my favourites has been limoncello and like all genres their execution varies widely. In 2013 we were offered the opportunity to make one and knuckled down to the task; as we went, we rapidly came to the conclusion that typical limoncello was not the best rendition of the complete delights that the humble lemon has to offer. If you are familiar with limoncello it's really easy to make at home: take some Sorrento lemons and grate, being careful only to grab the yellow zest and as little of the white pith as possible. Next add some high strength alcohol, mix and wait. Over the next week or so the lovely yellow lemon oils will migrate by diffusion from the zest into the liquid. After that is done to your satisfaction, take a strainer and remove the spent zest and simply add water and sugar to the yellow liquid to suit your own tastes - and there’s your lemoncello.

For me, that didn’t do it, you lose a myriad of flavour from the flesh and a touch of that deep crisp bitterness of the pith has its place too. Plus a vodka base is lost to the lemonness - is there something else we can use to drive our taste buds into a delighted spin? A big yes to all of that.

With our Limongino - clue in the name - we take a different route and use the whole lemon, but not just any lemon; we chose two different varieties at just the right size: small lemons are no good - as they become smaller their surface area increases compared to their volume. In essence you have more zest versus pith versus flesh. We are after the goldilocks version! Once found we are going to pulverise the lemons at low temperature to preserve their divinity and blend with a gin we have especially distilled for the job, sweetening to just the right amount to make the experience thrilling. That’s our limongino.

The marvellous thing about Limongino is its near universal application! As Bentley used to say about its cars’ engines - suitable for all occasions!

Some of my favourite Limongino sips and bites are:

  • Over ice with a few torn tarragon or fresh basil leaves

  • Splashed generously into bubbly

  • One to one with Dr J’s Gin and a twist of grapefruit

  • One to one with olive oil and vinegar as a great dressing for green leave salads or bbq’d bream

  • As a glaze towards the end of finishing off your sticky lemon chicken

That’s making the tummy rumble! Have a sip and see!

Our toffee is equally lovely and our chocolate chilli will make you smile - don’t be put off by the chilli word - it's simply there to add a certain fruit-y-ness to your sip and virtually no heat.

I am compelled to dash to the kitchen now for a spot of R&D!


Dr. J


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